Ah, Underground Arts. Definitely my favorite music venue in Philly. Intimate, yet sizeable, it’s basically a huge basement where a lot of awesome metal bands come through in the city. Today, those bands happen to be Windhand and Satan’s Satyrs, both haling from Virginia and on tour together. Despite Philadephia’s sizable doom scene, their were no local openers, which wasn’t a problem for me.
Decked out in bell-bottoms and drenched in long hair, Satan’s Satyrs took the stage first. This is my fourth time seeing them, and they’re always a treat. Their sound could best be described as an amazing early heavy metal soundtrack to a horror exploitation film from 1971. Think of Blue Cheer, Pentagram, and Black Sabbath with a splash of Venom.
The Satyrs played mostly material from their latest album, Don’t Deliver Us, as well as two tracks to be released. The new cuts were interesting: not as overly bombastic as some of their top tier songs, but there were some intriguing melodies for sure. I wished they played more numbers off of my favorite album of theirs, Die Screaming, but “Show Me Your Skull” is never a bore. Unfortunately, singer Clayton Burgess‘ mic volume was low compared to the instruments, so his raw nasally voice could not be heard well. This issue seemingly plagues at least one set at every show I go to. Despite lack of vocal clarity, Satan’s Satyrs jammed an energetic and tight set.
Satan’s Satyrs Set List:
1. Full Moon and Empty Veins
3. She Beast
4. Show Me Your Skull
5. (New song)
6. ‘Round the Bend
8. Creepy Teens
I have a history of not being the biggest Windhand fan, even after seeing them on a few occasions. They’ve always felt mediocre to me. Their drawn out tracks, overly murky tone, and low-energy vocals were not doing it for me. But this was my favorite time seeing them. I’m not sure exactly what it was this time: probably a combination of a bit of booze, being in a good mood, and at this point being fairly familiar with them. They also played their best tracks: “Orchard,” “Woodbine,” “Cassock,” and I was really letting their tunes sink in.
There’s a weighty, yet mellow vibe to them sonically. The four piece has the usual stoner/doom tone that weighs a thousand tons and creeps like molasses, but Dorthia Cotrell‘s stretched out and drifting vocals add another dimension to the music. The lyrics are something else too. They don’t go for the horror or stoner cliches (which I still love), but something to think about. Stuff like “I miss the feeling of the landslide / Shaking the dust off of my skin”. I now understand why they’re one of the most popular bands in the scene today.
An interesting thing to point out is that I think Windhand losing a guitarist helped their sound, but Satan’s Satyrs gaining a guitarist helped theirs. Windhand’s soundscape has always been very busy, so only having one guitar player helps to add focus to what they already have. They have some excellent melodies that can get lost in their wall of sound. The Satyrs adding another player helped give their sound an extra kick. They were excellent as a trio, but hearing newcomer Nate Towle come stomping in after the first few metres of “You-Know-Who” gives that song new life. It’s intriguing how different a group can sound when you add or subtract instruments.
Windhand Set List:
3. Forest Clouds
4. Summon the Moon
7. Winter Sun