True Widow soothes with distorted serenity

The doomgaze trio provides wonderful communion between heaviness and delicacy.
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True Widow soothes with distorted serenity

Maxwell Heilman, Writer

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As the doom metal genre continues growing, the scene has become increasingly oversaturated with uninspired bands hiding their lack of emotion through drawn out songs and forced grandiosity. Luckily, Dallas natives True Widow prove the power of a back-to-basics approach by combining known properties.

rumbling tranquility

True Widow’s style centers around two bands: shoegaze pioneers My Bloody Valentine and heavy metal founders Black Sabbath. Taking the former band’s hypnotic beats and washed out dreaminess, vintage fuzz tone and spooky melodies satisfy metalheads and hipsters alike. This unique blend of styles made waves since 2008, but gained considerable attention with the release of 2013’s “Circumambulation” and “AVVOLGERE” in July 2016.

Their tour in support of their latest release landed them at The Echo in Los Angeles. As a relatively new fan of the band, I could hardly contain my excitement about seeing how their distinct sound translated on a stage. Their performance skyrocketed my respect for them as musicians and as performers.

The Echo exudes a relaxed aura —with comfortable seating around the perimeter of the room — suiting the rumbling tranquility that would soon fill it to the brim.

New York post-punk upstarts Lowlands set the mood with a charming set of straightforward, yet enjoyable tunes. Although their sound features few substantial distinctions from the norms of the post-punk sound, their visceral minimalism and staunch commitment to both atmosphere and songwriting propelled their songs forward. Hard-hitting drums provided a perfect backbone for morose singing and wonderfully layered guitars and keyboards. They won the crowd over not through their eye-catching bombast, but through their vulnerable mannerisms and unabashed delivery.

Impact from simplicity

The Echo doubled in population as all manner of music fans filed into the room in anticipation of True Widow’s set. Excited hollering exploded from the crowd as the band took the stage. Starting with “Back Shredder,” the trio effortlessly engrossed their audience in their sound. Drummer Slim TX dropped into the classic True Widow groove as DH Phillips and Nicole Estill synced up in crushingly assuaging fashion. The Echo’s great sound system allowed the weight of their riffs to hit the crowd like waves over a tidal pool. Silence gripped the audience as distorted chords leaped through the amplifiers.

True Widow’s impact comes from their simplicity, but their memorability exudes from their nuances. Estill’s basslines certainly sport a deep sound felt at the core of the listener, but a warmness pervades as well. Phillips’ lines might  that old-school distortion harkening back to the 1970s, but at no point did any of them sound muddy or sloppy. His impeccable timing together with his drowsy modulative approach, lulled the crowd into a zone of pure euphoria. TX’s beats might not branch out much, but he provides the exact hits each song needs. The three of them certainly knew what the played, and the rapt crowd attested to that.

Sharing vocal duties in the band, Estill and Phillips’ voices hover over the instrumentals to a mesmerizing effect. While the former’s droning delivery evokes a real sense of sadness, Estill’s melodies captured my emotions as though I had never heard her sing before. Her voice features a certain innocence, in contrast with her hauntingly elegant performance. “Four Teeth” perfectly summed up every facet contributing to True Widow’s success in modern rock music, with slow-moving, stripped-down riffs, powerfully reserved drumming and a healthily creepy undercurrent. Fans of classic acid rock, heavy metal, folk or shoegaze can count on finding dismal satisfaction in True Widow.