Wovenhand was originally conceived as a side project for 16 Horsepower frontman David Eugene Edwards while the band was on hiatus, they released their eponymous debut album in 2002, following up with Consider The Birds in 2004, becoming a full-time entity with the demise of 16 Horsepower the following year. Since which time, they’ve released a further five albums of gothic Americana strewn with Biblical references and imagery and songs of damnation, redemption and everything in between.
This is their eighth and sees Edwards and fellow band members Chuck French, Neil Keener and Ordy Garrison joined on keyboards by Matthew Smith from Crime & The City Solution and is pretty much business as usual, Garrison’s thundering drums launching Come Brave before Edwards dark and forceful vocals kick in, still channeling shamanistic Jim Morrison influences (most evidently so on the spoken swirl mid way into Swaying Reed) with the music intense, heavy and at times ritualistic and tribal.
It’s not for the faint-hearted, either in terms of its sound or its content, much of which, inevitably, reflects Edwards’ devout Christian beliefs while, as per the title, exploring mankind’s fascination with the night sky and the cosmos.
I guess you might see him as a sort of mystical Biblical version of a more fire and brimstone Nick Cave, though it’s not all Old/New Testament stuff, The Hired Hand being a twangsome rockabilly tale of a hitman (though that may well be some sort of metaphor as he sings “give up your dead”).
Nor is it all Armageddon with drums and guitars, Golden Blossoms is an anthemic love ballad that sways along on French’s gloriously plangent reverb, Crystal Palace draws on European folk as well as hellfire gospel, Crook and Flail introduces tabla into the heady sonic cocktail and an eight minute All Your Waves, Edwards’ vocals buried back in the mix, is cosmic gothic psych.
Ending on the defiant, faith-fuelled Low Twelve (“they have stricken me and I was not hurt”), it’s a blood rush of baptismal fury that touches on primal, apocalyptic feelings and leaves you both drained and exhilarated. Grab a telescope and gaze in wonder.
The UK release of Star Treatment is out now via Glitterhouse Records