What do you expect from a band called Dirt Woman? Probably not this. Five songs, three of them thirteen-plus minutes, and a colossal sound that will leave you overwhelmed, clutching your head, wondering if you still have ears. Most bands would consider this an insult, but we have a feeling it’s exactly what Dirt Woman are going for. The Maryland quartet are newcomers to the scene, with a handful of Bandcamp tracks and very little social media presence to their name. Just don’t expect it to remain this way for long. The Glass Cliff is too good for them to remain fully underground.
Though each mammoth track has its own shade and flavour, all are dominated by Kearny Mallone’s guitar. Dubbed “The Big Guitar” in press releases, it’s a fitting name for the wall of sound blitz he conjures every time he strums. Heavy as Electric Wizard, more interesting than Windhand, it must be heard to be believed.
Balancing it out The Big Guitar the voice of Zoe Koch. Vocals are where albums like The Glass Cliff meet their make-or-break point, and Dirt Woman pass this test with flying colours. Perfectly balanced between woozy and ethereal, Koch avoids the bluesy voice that has dominated this genre since at least 1975. She’s sporadic, letting the music carry us through the album, dropping in to keep things from getting boring at just the right times.
First track “Lady of the Dunes” gives a taster of what is to come. The phrase “Sabbath-in-slow-motion” comes to mind every time the riff drops back to another unbelievably heavy low note. Fans who still spark one to Dopethrone should already be spinning out in excitement.
Things get stranger on “Creator,” the first of three super-sized cuts. This would be right where the edibles kick in. Casual listeners may not be down for the droning mantra of riffs that “Creator” offers, but for those willing to stick it out, you will be treated to the doom experience of your week. Trust us, by the fifth or sixth minute, you’ll be hanging on every note. This feeling gets repeated on “Demagogue” and “Starhawk,” the other epics that round out The Glass Cliff. Not for the weak of heart or constitution.
Let’s get one thing out of the way. Dirt Woman is not the best name. It’s a little baffling why they have saddled themselves with a moniker that sounds like a sleaze rock act. Plenty of bands have risen above bad naming choices (see Korn, Dying Fetus), but it makes it an uphill battle. It would be a shame if Dirt Woman get lost in the pile due to something dumb like this, but in today’s micro-attention span world, it’s a real possibility.
(It’s not too late! If Pink Floyd can start out as Leonard’s Lodgers, nothing is impossible)
Not many bands are brave enough to try this formula on their very first record. Even fewer actually succeed, making Dirt Woman a minority in more ways than one. They show so much potential as they make their first plunge into the murky bong waters of the psychedelic doom scene. If this is their first record, imagine what else they are capable of. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!