I’ve almost made it to my reading week, just one more day of classes to go. I’ve been pretty slammed recently, so I’m looking forward to taking some time off and hopefully catching up on some musical backlog. Anyway, enough with the gabbing, time to get to some epic length jams from England’s Wiht on their album “The Harrowing of the North.”
If your thinking to yourself, “Isn’t the same name of the military campaign carried out by William the Conqueror from 1069 to 1070?”, you would infact be correct, you would also know way more about history than I do (If you didn’t know that you can find the Wiki article right here). If your wondering what kind of music this part of history might turn into, I’ll point you towards a quote by the historian Orderic Vitalis;
“The King stopped at nothing to hunt his enemies. He cut down many people and destroyed homes and land. Nowhere else had he shown such cruelty. This made a real change. To his shame, William made no effort to control his fury, punishing the innocent with the guilty. He ordered that crops and herds, tools and food be burned to ashes. More than 100,000 people perished of hunger. I have often praised William in this book, but I can say nothing good about this brutal slaughter. God will punish him.”
So yeah, some pretty bleak stuff. In riff form this translates to long, creeping builds and howling crescendos that ooze hopelessness and destruction from their very core, like the charred remains of a village after the armies have passed through, only occupied by the faint moans of the dying and the hungry caw of the circling carrion birds.
The centerpiece of this album is the titular track that clocks in at a whopping 20 minutes long. While I’m usually put off by tracks that dive past the 10 minute mark, I found myself not only listening to the whole track but I enjoying myself immensely. Wiht do a damn fine job of crafting these epic length songs while still packing them with plenty of musical variety to keep the listener hooked in.
Eerie guitar loops and background ambiance get brushed aside to make way for a cavalcade of fuzzed out riffing and shrieking guitar solos. There is a palpable ebb and flow to these tracks as they chronicle the ultimate destruction of the Northern English. Even though their songs are firmly planted in epic territory, they never become stale or repetitive. The songs still have a point and don’t get lost along the way like many other epic-length psychedelic bands do.
The music has a very strong Russian Circles vibe, with a slighter lighter shade of distortion and darker shade of psychedelic. It’s also an entirely instrumental affair, with the instruments here are doing all of the talking. The lack of vocals and instrumental depth are two of the biggest draws for me, as this is the kind of music I can have playing in the background, just letting myself nod along to it.
“The Harrowing of the North” is available both on Bandcamp from a name-your-price option. As always, if you like the music, show it with your wallets. Links and streams are down below.