Shrouded in mystique and driven by the invigorating power of low notes, psychedelic metal outfit Druids returns with their fourth studio LP, “Shadow Work”, set for release on June 3rd, 2022, via Pelagic Records.
With an album title referring to one of the chief ideas of the notable psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung, the trio from Iowa presents a wild, riff-laden journey through the desolate wastelands of the subconscious. Combining the sonic prowess of Mastodon with the psychedelic heaviness of OM, Druids serves their grooves with a distinctly forward-thinking attitude, taking their witchy brand of psychedelic sludge metal to a new level of sophistication.
“We wanted to make a record that reflected the uncertainty of everything in 2020, and we figured this would be the time to really try something different”, explains drummer Keith Rich. By moving their operations from their hometown of Des Moines, Iowa to Salt Lake City, Utah, the band was able to escape the distractions of everyday life and shift their gaze from the endless cornrows of their homeland to the breathtaking peaks of the Rocky Mountains. The result is a record that sees Druids increase the dynamics of their compositions while incorporating an even wider spectrum of sounds.
“We wanted to make a pivot with this new record, slow things down and experiment with different sounds”, continues Rich, pointing to further influences ranging from Radiohead to Neurosis. Indeed the choppy bass lines of album closer “Cloak-Noir Bloom” do hearken back to quintessential experimental rock opus “Airbag”, while only moments later the same track breathes the explosive atmosphere of the seminal post-metal act from Oakland, California. Truthfully, these three musicians sound nothing like a three-piece, but rather like an army, the way they march through their songs.
In advance of the release of “Shadow Work”, the band has unveiled first single, “Ide’s Koan”, now playing below.
“Shadow Work” will be released on CD, LP, and digitally. Find preorders here. Fans of Mastodon, OM, Baroness, Conan, Bell Witch, Pallbearer, Sleep, Queens Of The Stone Age, and the like, pay heed.
3. Ide’s Koan
5. Dance of Skulls
6. Othenian Blood
8. Cloak – Noir Bloom
The big, fat murky bass sound of Druids’ Drew Rauch forms a solid counterbalance to the majestic guitar wizardry of his brother Luke, who channels the spirits of classic guitar heroes like Zakk Wylde and Billy Gibbons. Meanwhile, drummer Keith Rich channels the voodoo magic of the nightly tribal drums ringing out across the plains of Central Africa, propelling the potent riffs of the Rauch brothers onward into the heart of darkness, where they continue to morph and restlessly shape-shift.
Across these eight phantasmagorical tracks, Druids portrays their unique way of exploring riffs and grooves in multiple ways – both texturally and contextually – exhausting each possibility before moving to the next part and rarely to return to the first. However, instead of rejecting the traditional verse-chorus scheme altogether, the trio has found a new way of playing with certain formulas of song structure at times, while intentionally straying away from them at other times. Adding to this sonically diverse experience are the many different vocal styles put on display by both the Rauch brothers throughout the album.
From the solemn chanting on “Traveler” and the earnest and introspective clean vocals on “Hide” to the spoken word part of “Ide’s Koan” and the gut-tearing rasp that fires the listener on in the “Dance of Skulls”, sitting comfortably in the mix at an equal level with the other instruments, the words are often shrouded by the heavy bass sound, carefully concealing their true meaning to the casual listener. Only occasionally will the words reveal themselves – seemingly at just the right time – to those who choose to engage themselves in the deeper layers of the album just as C.G. Jung recognized the need for humans to engage the Shadow, which represents the unknown and suppressed aspects of the personality, including those often considered to be negative.
Emerging from the murky waters of the pandemic years, Druids has created a sweeping opus that offers an experience that exists on the interface of expression and introspection. An enlightening mix of psychedelic rock, atmospheric sludge and classic heavy metal that is both deeply rooting and refreshingly uplifting.
Drew Rauch – Bass, vocals
Luke Rauch – Guitar, vocals
Keith Rich – Drums