Two years ago Denver stoner doom outfit Green Druid offered an impressive debut with their LP, Ashen Blood. The album earned an assortment of comparisons with genre-adjacent artists to help an unassuming audience grasp what the band was accomplishing, but the parallels did the band little justice.
7 tracks. 74 minutes.
The math of the band's debut alone is enough to suggest that Green Druid is less a listen and more of an experience. The band's songwriting capabilities transform single tracks into sonic landscapes that translate as intense, immersive, and subtlety intricate. Even before digging into the thematic quantities of their music, the distorted heft that emits from the band resonates as stylistically sinister without indulging the predictable tropes of the category.
Set to release their follow up album, At The Maw of Ruin, Green Druid again assert their presence as deft musicians while providing pertinent commentary for a world that is currently spiraling in chaos. Describing the writing process as cathartic, their sophomore release underscores the skill of an artistic collective that understands how to embrace their surrounding disarray and filter it through their music.
Ahead of the album's release, guitarist/vocalist Chris McLaughlin discussed the band's brand of calculated doom and how they balance evolving creatively with maintaining their consistency.
The band has mentioned that stylistically 'At The Maw of Ruin' is bit more focused than 'Ashen Blood' which showcased more of a variety of influences. Was this a conscious effort to be more concise or did that transition happen organically?
I think we would actually all agree that At the Maw of Ruin is much more varied stylistically than Ashen Blood which, for the most part, kept to the same Sleep/Electric Wizard worship. And I think the reasons for that were both conscious and organic. We definitely didn’t want to just make Ashen Blood pt. 2 and given that we all enjoy music from a ton of different genres and styles, it kind of naturally worked itself into our new songs. I believe that all music is connected and it’s fun to try and extract things that you love from other genres and implement it into our doom sensibilities.
You’ve described the process of writing this release that explores apocalyptic themes as especially cathartic. Given the climate of 2020, did any of that emotional weight you got rid of with these tunes come back?
I wouldn’t even say we necessarily got rid of any emotional weight; the writing process just helps us intake, process and release in a healthy and artistic manner. I think everyone is feeling the weight and toll this year and that’s just how life is right now. I’m both glad and proud of us for being able to stay focused and put our hearts and feelings into a project that helps us all cope with the chaos.
Narrative really seems to be a prerequisite in doom metal. For Green Druid do you create a soundtrack after you craft a story or do you find a theme for a plot that works with a musical landscape you’ve already created?
Generally the music always comes first, then as a lyricist I take what we’ve made and assess what the mood and atmosphere makes me think of. Some songs take a narrative form, others are more interpersonal and reflective and deal with the emotional realm.
What are your thoughts about releasing 11-minute songs in a world that has a collective attention span that lasts seconds at best?
Thankfully this genre is not too concerned with people’s attention spans nor are we as a band. We like long songs; I think to really create a headspace and a sense of atmosphere, things need proper time to grow and develop. As a band, we aim to create a kind of sonic experience. We want to fully immerse the listener in an atmospheric bath, not just have them dip their toes. If people struggle with long song lengths, I would encourage them to open their minds-- smoke a bowl, sit back, and let it engulf you.
"In order to cleanse the rot from our planet, we as a species need to stop thinking so inward and have a 'death of self'.” Is this statement indicative of the theme of At The Maw of Ruin?
Not necessarily the overall theme of the record (I’m not sure there is an “overall theme”), but it’s certainly an idea that comes up a lot. In general, people’s greed and willingness to use our planet to their own means is something that infuriates me and I believe this attitude comes from an inflated sense of ego. Anger is a great emotion for this genre, as is desperation and helplessness. These are all things I feel when I think about the state of the natural world.
Doom has the ability to find an aesthetic beauty in the abysmal. At the Maw of Ruin however almost has a subtle call to action in its messaging. Do you explore the ominous with your music to revel in it or to maybe affect some kind of change?
I think it’s important to accept the chaos and misery of life. In an odd way I would actually argue it helps one enjoy life more fully. I also think hope is an important force in people’s lives. This album delves into both. I see it less as a call to action and more about just absorbing what’s happening around us and putting it into music. I write about the things that effect me emotionally because, in my opinion, that is what makes the best art.
Pre-order At The Maw of Ruin from Green Druid - HERE
Watch the latest visual from Green Druid for the track " A Throne Abandoned" below.