You’ll find them lurking in uncleaned weed grinders, hiding with the fluff in the cracks of your sofa, and stashed in any dark crevice a stray bit of fuzz may have migrated to. Most of them with a singular mission. Worship the riff.
The vast majority come away sounding like a hashed up rehash of what Black Sabbath started so long ago. Once in a while though, we’re treated to something that reaches out beyond the copious smoke and finds a unique identity.
Hailing from Denver, Colorado, Green Druid have returned to hit us with their sophomore effort, ‘At the Maw of Ruin’. Six tracks of brooding, tripped out doom with a sinister edge.
Opening track ‘The Forest Dark’ wastes no time in cranking out the obligatory, excessively dank riffs which are are mammoth-like in size and satisfyingly heavy. This is met with a sombre, foreboding vocal, and things start to cook.
Green Druid have a seemingly endless variety of vocal styles on tap. Seamlessly shifting between mournful chants, anguished wraith-like wailing and ethereal group vocals on a dime. It ladles on the atmosphere and keeps things interesting, even when the band revel a bit too long in fuzz driven trances.
‘Haunted Harmonies’ scales back on the heaviness to open up some more psychedelic, spiritual moments. These sections are sprinkled throughout the album, stirring in a cosmic moodiness that makes Green Druid more memorable than many of their peers. They lull into a rhythmic ambient haze, before crashing back to earth with monstrous weight. It’s at these moments the band sounds their heaviest, wielding ‘Lovecraftian‘ horrors you’ll want to revisit again and again. This is what it’s all about.
As capable as the band show themselves to be, not all moments hit home as they should. At times they sit on a riff for too long, building to a peak that never quite delivers. Things meander at times, leading to some less remarkable, forgettable moments. The back end of ‘Haunted Harmonies’ is guilty of this, feeling like it never quite matches the high points earlier in the track.
‘A Throne Abandoned’ a highlight moment of the album. The song rides on a swampy, miasmic guitar riff, and some amazing haunted vocal harmonies. It’s infectiously effective from start to finish.
With all six tracks bleeding together into one monolithic piece, ‘At the Maw of Ruin’ flows out its long, complex story. It’s an atmospheric, powerful, and memorable labour of love.
In moments it falls into overly familiar stoner doom territory, but more often than not it has enough personality to make it stand out in the crowd. 3.8/5
For more information on Green Druid, please visit this link. ‘At The Maw of Ruin’ is out now via Earache Records.