#FOR FANS OF: Stoner/Doom, Sleep
Craning its neck to observe the distance, a raven frames the center of a cover enamored with the regal shades of purple cloaks and green laurels, a photo negative in any other respect with plenty of black and gray to emulate the originators of heavy metal in their own fourth volume. Birnam Wood's 'Vol. 4' brings the psychedelic attitude of a smoked out Sabbath while wearing the riff-guzzling gas masks of Sleep. In very “Sweet Leaf” fashion, “Richard Dreyfuss” shouts “cock-a-doodle-doo” across the speakers before conjuring a riff that starts out as a slow “Snowblind” and grinds the grist with a mind-splitting, bass-heavy, scream and stomp rumble as resonance cascades into clear riffing rises ensuring that blues evolves from the oozy bed. From the filthy “Early Warning” comes predictions of a nuclear hailstorm with the grumbling of static from an evaporated society bringing lilts of fiery devastation, buttoning up each riff with the blinding clarity of fresh flashes before another lingering mushroom cloud of distortion envelops the sonic expanse.
This gargantuan approach, like whales breaching the surface of seas of sludge, is a captivating show of Birnam Wood's strength as the simplicity of the basic heavy metal foursome format is astutely executed, plunging like a knife into a belly, draping intestines over your shoulders, and performing burlesque bathed in blood. The grit that so delights and defines the now, a reaction to a world so obsessed with cleanliness and clarity through high definition, perfectly interplays with these shameless Sabbath snippets as each song weaves itself into the threads of this timeless music and sews its own patch into the denim of yesteryear. A psychedelic break in “Greenseer” with wavering guitars, the fades of a crunchy drum laid in the background, and an abundant series of solos shows Birnam Wood rousting its affinity for improvisation as the band splatters this jam all over the studio, recklessly runs right through another waterfall solo section in “A Song for Jorklum”, and cannot help but re-explore the intoxicating draw of the East in “Return to Samarkand”, jubilantly marching with all its new panoply of war.
Birnam Wood has finally found the production befitting its sound, and with that production has also come its most inspired work to date as quality continually inclines an ear to perk up at each fizzling fade of a note. The overwhelmingly meaty guitar, the band's willingness to loose itself upon a good riff in earnest exploration, and the sheer rapture of this climactic culmination in 'Wicked Worlds' renews a metalhead's zeal for the joy of jamming and playing with a focus on preeminence over pretense. As the result of the past four years of effort, Birnam Wood has very much come into its own as a cohesive unit and expressed its ambitious strengths through powerful heavy rock and beautiful blues that, as addling as a rush of chemicals, presents a potent product.