How do you take your folk music? Served with a heaping helping of head-to-toe denim and a whole lotta washboard? Enough already. PVD quartet Bloodpheasant just swooped in with a must-hear hybrid of self-proclaimed “dirty, swampy, pissed-Doom Folk” on the new full-length debut, Traum (Tor Johnson Records). “Doom-Folk?” Hell yes. Bloodpheasant incinerates quieter moments with blood-curdling growls and low end thunder, and the result is a charred beast of a record. Traum will be available at the release show this Friday (the 2nd), or hit up torjohnsonrecords.com to stream and pre-order the album right now. Traum is what the people living under your stairs would rock out to while plotting their next move.
The Bloodpheasant foursome’s loud-as-fuck lineup includes members of Yavinfive, Jesuscentric, and Weak Teeth (all Tor Johnson vets), plus lead singer/guitarist Shannon LeCorre of Gertrude Atherton. At this point I am pretty much a Gertrude groupie (still can’t get enough of GA’s 2013 debut EP, Isle of Skulls), so I had high hopes for Traum, and it certainly does not disappoint.
Bloodpheasant’s origins can be traced back to southwest Virginia, where LeCorre was raised and developed a penchant for “eerie folk music.” She had been in contact with guitarist Chris Carrera about starting a band prior to relocating here, and soon after Derrick Garforth (bass) and Neil King (drums) joined on. The nine songs comprising Traum were built from song skeletons LeCorre penned while in Virginia which were fleshed out by Carrera.
“As we kept writing songs, we developed a clear style and had no problem coming up with new parts organically,” LeCorre told me earlier this week.
“Usually I provide the swampy, eerie sounding sections while Chris, Derrick, and Neil, who come from a hardcore and metal background, supply the heavy parts,” she continued. “We don’t always have similar musical taste but we have always agreed on heavy, melodic doom and dark ’90s grunge, so you hear a lot of that in our music.
“I wanted to actualize some of my softer musical writing tendencies in a way that didn’t feel too vulnerable, so it made perfect sense to find a compromise.”
Look up the mellow, early version of “Failure” that LeCorre recorded solo in 2011, then spin the full-blown take found on Traum — what started as a serene acoustic number has been recalibrated with the rhythm section hammering away (it’s like Helium versus Mastodon). The three songs that open Traum capture the band’s subtly bold sound. “A Bird and Its Wings” gives way to “Our Homes and Their Adornments,” with LeCorre’s vocals riding Garforth and King’s guttural growls. “The Drought” lumbers along and drops out until LeCorre and the gang detonate the track’s finale. The fits and starts of songs like “Annette” (LeCorre: “My cousin asked us to name a song after her”) and “Wyola” (named for a street in Bristol) come with little warning, while personal favorite “Farewell, Viking” evokes EVOL-era Sonic Youth. The song title references Nickelodeon’s The Adventures of Pete & Pete and is dedicated to a friend who passed away and loved the show.