[sic] Magazine

Blackwater Holylight – Veils Of Winter

California’s RidingEasy Records have been surfing a monster for some time now, the label one of the vanguards of New American Heavy sounds. Veils Of Winter is Portland band Blackwater Holylight’s follow-up to 2018’s self-titled, retro-leaning debut on the label and its eight tracks often go in two directions at once, unafraid to evolve mid-bridge neither. According to the band, this is due to its recording process wherein all five members (they’ve gained a guitarist in Mikayla Mayhew since last year) tabled their favourite influences, cherry-picking what worked best together.

Unified only then by punishing distortion and a shared love of hard-rock, Veils Of Winter is sonically all over the fuzz-map. Outliers like “Spiders” and its B-Movie keys are suitably schlocky, “Lullaby” aptly soothing – pastoral even relatively speaking – while meditative space-rock droners like “The Protector” build from humble beginning to layers of crushing psych. Despite nods again then to the band’s trademark vulnerability, they remain at their best when noisy though.

Accordingly, even their poppiest track, “Death Realms”, treats its pretty shoegaze patterning to a strong undertow of Warpaint-like gloom and the misleadingly tranquil “Daylight” unleashes an ocean of noise onto its shuffling strumming and frosty piano chimes. No such subtlety on leading statements “Seeping Secrets” and “Motorcyle” though, the former dropping doom bars like megaliths, Sunny Faris’s thin vocal melodies corrupted by neck-popping dirge. The sludgy latter in turn deploys synth-scan and vintage vocal smearing to give its revved-up, biker-psych passages a harmonised indie makeover. And, each way you turn, it’s a good look on the band. Throw in some more kosmiche and the sky’s the limit.

Best track: “Motorcycle”

~Veils Of Winter is released October 11th 2019 via RidingEasy Records.~