Having originally formed in Texas, Doom/Punk quartet Wailin’ Storms relocated to North Carolina and it’s possible that both areas may be contributing to the band’s thick soup of rebellion and a life in the darkness. Third album Rattle (Gilead Media) sees the band incorporate a Grungey, swamp-drenched edge to that sound, further uniting related yet disparate genres.
The opening bars of the title track toll with a force akin to Johnny Cash dragging a heavy monument. ‘Wailin’ is an apt description for frontman Justin Storms: initially sounding a ringer for Chris Cornell, his primitive howls and yelps are striking, enhancing that Country Rock feel and perfectly complementing the slow, hulking riff and rhythm section. It’s a sound full of tension and sadness, reminiscent of a quickened Big|Brave, which oozes into the still edgier ‘Rope’: the post-Punk flavour of the vocals and energetic choruses offset by Mark Oates‘ pummelling drums and huge production. ‘Grass’, meanwhile, evokes images of Chris Isaak with a sneer after just shagging your mum: a beseeching vocal that nevertheless drips with attitude, hell-bent on revenge, his backing band deciding to turn everything up to eleven and discover Country Doom Metal in the process.
The bleeding, agonised anger, and resonant power is matched only by the freshness and vitality of the sound. ‘Wish’ is an evil, creeping devil of a track led by Steve Stanczyk‘s ploughing bass alongside the crashing guitars of Storms and Todd Warner: the wish for wellness seeming as sincere as that for a poker to be shoved through your eye. ‘Teeth’ runs at a more regular canter while groaning under emphatic weight, a little like early Killers with more fire in the belly, a willingness and need to hit harder. ‘Sun’ meanwhile, forces the buzzing snarl back to the fore yet mixes it with the gothic darkness of a Bauhaus or Killing Joke, creating a searing oppression and arguably the album’s highlight.
There’s a brooding, balladic heat to the penultimate ‘Crow’, yet the sinews remain tightened by rapidly-tapped drumsticks, swelling atmospherics, and choruses straining at the leash to be let loose. More of Oates’ brutal thumping leads the poignant yet harrowing closer ‘End’, its frantic yet staccato string work mirroring the beautiful schizophrenia of Storms’ voice: at peace for brief moments prior to wild displays of pained anxiety. It’s reflective of Rattle as a whole: a hugely vibrant album, full of edge and vigour while expressing real emotion and subtle elements of dark melody.