Death and Consolation (Riding Easy)
Reviewed by Michael Toland, Fri., May 3, 2019
Darkness defines doom metal, and in the case of Austin power trio the Well, the word "death" co-brands its third album. Behind selections including "Raven," "Endless Night," and of course "Death Song," Death and Consolation employs the Tony Iommi trick of tuning down to C, which ensures that very lick evokes a homicidal Giganotosaurus. Combined with a sharpened instrumental attack – Jason Sullivan's precision drumming and the unrelenting chug of Lisa Alley's bass free guitarist Ian Graham to slash and spew both melodic and dissonant – the effect hits like a Volkswagen to the skull. Adding in the threesome's droning harmonies and its adherence to sonic psychedelia deposits the Well in a rich lather more so than their previous LPs. On opener "Sabbah," the locals channel gloom into a powerhouse of throbbing riffs and rhythm strikes as Graham croons "smoke and blood" and increased reverb fools the ear into hearing sounds that aren't there. It's as quintessential a track as the band has produced. For all the lack of light, however, remember there's a second half to the album title. When the frontman intones that he's "traded comfort for the stars" on "Freedom Above," he's celebrating, not complaining. By the time a defiant "This Is How the World Ends" rolls through, it's clear the Well isn't interested in drowning in the dark. The night's crawling with terror, yes, but it bursts with delights as well.