Wailin Storms keeps getting bigger.
In personnel and sound, the band has expanded with every release. Frontman Justin Storms, the outfit's lone constant, started the project as a Southern Gothic duo, issuing the predictably spare if effectively moody Bone Colored Moon EP in 2012. For 2014's Shiver EP, Storms enlisted a drummer and bassist to fill in some of the negative space. The crew infused his increasingly propulsive songs with a much-needed rumble, like Samhain casting shadows over The Gun Club. And finally, for the full-length debut, One Foot in the Flesh Grave, Storms has finished the job by relocating to Durham and expanding Wailin Storms into a proper quartet.
Storms, along with Bats & Mice drummer Mark Oates, lead guitarist Todd Warner and bassist Steve Stanczyk, gives these songs the heft they require. Scorching single "Ribcage Fireplace" bursts at the seams. Behind Storms' raw howl, itself a perfect hybrid of Glenn Danzig and Murder City Devils' Spencer Moody, Oates forces the band forward. Storms and Warner summon gusts of distortion and reverb while Stanczyk cuts clanging, low-end riffs through the din. It's the sort of murky maelstrom The Men used to conjure and which Destruction Unit still does.
Even in quieter moments, Wailin Storms maintains an intense air of foreboding. "Walk" opens with comparatively sparse guitar strumming and light drumming. Echoing Nick Cave's steely menace, Storms sings, "See you walking down, down, down/With your hair always to the ground/Lips, lips, lips I wanna taste/Arms all around."
Early on, Wailin Storms garnered surprising comparisons—Roy Orbison's evocative rockabilly and the Birthday Party's tense post-punk, Danzig's dark blues metal and Screamin' Jay Hawkins' haunted hollers. Those contrasting influences still have their place, but One Foot's roster allows for more dense arrangements and a more confident presentation. Wailin Storms feels like more than an exercise in duality now. At last, this band is ready to find an audience to grow alongside it.
Label: Magic Bullet Records