by Shaina Vriezelaar (@cannednirvana)
There's a distinct artistry in both the creation of stoner rock and shoegaze. In between guitars droning out minor pentatonic lines and fuzzy, heavy grooves with concrete-breaking distortion, in between all of the swirling, psychedelic wall-of-noise blowback and Sabbath worship, there is that feel that unites the two genres: a lonely, minuscule slice of insanity, that feeling of being stranded, whether it's in Coachella Valley or Grangemouth alike. True Widow's Avvolgere manages a stonery, fuzzy insanity while remaining ghostly, wispy, and angelic. Playing with their own unique brand of dreamy sonic intensity in their fourth studio LP, the Dallas-based doomgaze trio lays down a fiercely clouded and stormy feel to driving shoegaze or reined-in doom alike.
The first track, “Back Shredder,” opens the album in true stoner rock fashion, an overarching and thumping rhythmic assault full of dirt-pedal distortion down the sonic equivalent of a dark desert road. It's heavy, yet controlled, never an intense burst of aggression, setting the tone for heaviness and aural terrain that itself demands to be reined in as well as to be let free. At the same time, the second track on the album, “Theurgist,” lays the foundation for the band's lighter fare, venturing into twinkly grunge and shoegaze; the Nirvana-esque vocal line meanders in conjunction with the up-and-down flow of the guitar, and shows off the abilities of the band to utilize both melody and distortion in simultaneity.
Avvolgere has crunch to go with the softer and melodic grooves, weaving back and forth from a Cocteau Twins-style lamentation (“F. W. S. L. T. M.”), an abyssal-sounding call and response (“The trapper and the trapped”), a pacing doom-metal leadup (“O. O. T. P. V.”) and a pained, hollow-toned acoustic ballad (“To all that he elong”). “Entheogen” is a drawn-out meditative state of roiling drums and echo-y, contemplative anticipation delivered over a deceptively simple set of riffs, all the while ever coaxing the listener forward along the track's grooves and bumps. The penultimate track, “Gray erasure” touches upon the band's stoner intensity with a doom-filled darkness, full of ringing reverb, yet retaining the haunting quality of the entire album. The album ends with howling synth tones layered in reverb, mirroring the low and lilting dark-ambient opening of “Back Shredder,” terminating with uncanny stillness. “Sante” clocks in for the band's best track on Avvolgere, occurring towards the end of the album and most actively blending the doomgaze sound for which the band have made their name. It calls to mind the energetic and rollicking drum lines of Hole, a kind of grimy fast-paced cloud of noisy rock that evokes the sight of dried-up riverbeds and tornadoes snaking across the horizon.
Avvolgere is the dammed, reined-in power of a wide, silent river, the raw presence of a gutted and burned church, and the ephemeral, specter-like grace of moths fluttering in moonlight. It is meditation, loneliness, discovery and revelation all rolled up in one. True Widow covers an impressive display of ground in this album, at times hypnotic, soulful, and powerful—pretty much a must-listen for fans of both shoegaze and stoner rock alike.