Thanks to Jeff Terich, who writes
Dorthia Cottrell has a rich and soulful voice, the type that’s custom made for the kind of earthy, gothic folk music that comprises her debut, self-titled album. To hear “Maybe It’s True,” the album’s six-minute, gospel-tinged centerpiece, you’d never know that Cottrell is primarily a metal performer, having fronted Richmond doom outfit Windhand for the past six years. But it would be a mistake to think that one has nothing to do with the other; there’s no greater exercise for a vocalist than to face off against a trio of tube-head cabinets, each blasting out a thick and noxious wall of distortion in drop-B tuning. The greater challenge is to do it without screaming, and on Windhand’s marvelous 2013 album Soma, Cottrell not only does battle with such imposing sounds, she does so melodically, maintaining both power and grace while holding her own in a storm of titanic riffs.
That power translates remarkably well to a stripped-down and spooky folk environment like that of her debut album. It doesn’t take much squinting to imagine any of the album’s 11 tracks as much louder, denser tracks without losing any of the emotional, eerie vibe that they carry. As they appear on the album, however, there’s a certain, stunning darkness in just how spare and skeletal they are….
Cottrell’s self-titled album arrives between two Windhand releases, the next of which is due for a fall release via Relapse. And when it comes, Cottrell will once again most likely prove a formidable force in the context of much louder and more intense material. But here, she allows herself a lot more space to stretch out and showcase the full scope of her abilities, which in this case often means a softer touch or a subtler approach. Cottrell is truly one of the great metal vocalists of our time, but at heart, she’s a troubadour in a timeless folk tradition, with a gift for telling stories and her gaze fixed toward the darkness.