Women within the Stoner/Doom/Psych scene aren’t a complete anomaly when you consider the likes of Dorothia from Windhand, Lori S from Acid King and Laura Dolan of Electric Citizen. In fact, I would add that the scene is one of the more progressive or dare I say out there. This could be because the audience are either completely baked and/or the hippy vibe that envelopes the entire scene, means people aren’t arsed what gender the band is if they rock. I like to think it comes down to both possibilities.
Blackwater Holylight are a relatively new band having only formed in 2016 and are another quality addition to RidingEasy Records growing roster. They hail from the Portland; Oregon area of the States and Veils Of Winter is their follow-up to last year’s well received Self-Titled debut. Having enjoyed the debut record I was interested to hear what the follow-up would sound like, so when I was offered the opportunity to review this, there was no way I was going to turn it down.
Opening track Seeping Secrets starts with a drone like tone that reminds me of Earth, especially on that bands more recent works, particularly The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull. Second track Motorcycle, which was released as a promo on August 1st, starts off with a crunchy riff that not only sounds like a motorcycle revving up (who’d of thought?) but also immediately recalls The Melvins during their very early career, this riff is sludgy but not oppressively so.
Track four The Protector again recalls Earth’s early works, which make me wonder whether Blackwater Holylight have been listening to that band on repeat recently. The ethereal vocals present on all the bands work to date possess an almost celestial quality. You could almost fall in love with these ladies without having a clue as to what they looked like, the vocals draw you in and sound inviting. Having studied Classics at university, I am reminded of Odysseus’ journey home and how he and his men were bewitched by the sirens and their angelic voices. They sound mesmerising and that was what caught my attention the first-time round. What I also love about the vocal style is how it perfectly complements the heavy music and when I say heavy, I am referring to an emotional resonance rather than the actual tone of the music.
another slice of beautifully harmonic and melancholy psych rock…
In fact, the album is quite light in sound, Death Realms for instance, despite its harsh sounding name, is another slice of beautifully harmonic and melancholy psych rock. It has a dream pop influenced sound that reminds me of the Cocteau Twins or even My Bloody Valentine.
The track I am least keen on is Spiders, there is something about the sound of this track that makes me evoke the phrase ‘Psychedelic Elastica’, a horrific image to conjure possibly. This could be the band’s attempt at writing a straight-ahead pop tune. Not bad but it just doesn’t feel right in the context of the album.
Veils Of Winter ends with two psychedelic belters in the form of Lullaby and Moonlit and then ends. This is a lovely album which is also short (despite having two tracks over 6 minutes), its brevity is its strength. These ladies know to stop before things start becoming overly indulgent.
Having seen Blackwater Holylight earlier in the year, I will be seeing them a second time at Levitation in Austin, Texas next month and with the pleasant sounds of this record still ringing in my ears, this is a prospect I am very much looking forward to.
Scribed by: Reza Mills