Long-time devotees may still favour the sparse, acoustic fervour of earlier Wovenhand records, but it’s undeniable that David Eugene Edwards’ band have benefited hugely from becoming noisier and more muscular in recent times. 2014’s Refractory Obdurate was almost universally acclaimed and further cemented the strange but oddly natural relationship Edwards’ music has with the metal underground. Superficially, Star Treatment is simply more of the same sublimely stormy and electrified neo-folk. No less compelling than anything else its primary composer has done, it feels more like a consolidation of the current Wovenhand lineup’s intuitive chemistry than an attempt to expand their sound, and yet despite lacking any one definitive money shot to rival the mid-song ascension of the previous album’s Corsicana Clip, there are golden moments in abundance.
The opening Come Brave is a scabrous call-to- arms, its wall of clanging guitars exuding confrontational vehemence and David Eugene Edwards’ sonorous cries piercing through the squall like a siren in a thunderstorm. It also conjures more of that unsettling but obscenely exciting wildness that this more rock-driven incarnation of the band have steadily learned to harness. The languorousSwaying Reed is almost doom in delivery, but the untamed resonance of those guitars is more redolent of Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s feedback experiment Arc and there is something deliciously Swans-like about the sheer power behind each transient crescendo. Mid-album epic All Your Waves is even more compelling; a sustained and unnerving, Nephilim-tinged mirage, its blistering evocation of windswept plains and profound revelations could have been comically overwrought in less sincere hands, but Edwards’ utmost conviction ensures that the drama is very real and his comrades’ ensemble performance is nothing short of magical. More succinct material like the gothic rock rumble of Crook And Flail andGo Ye Light’s menacing post-punk thud may not quite hit the same heights of disorientating efficacy, but they each exhibit just enough of Wovenhand’s glowering soul to earn their place. It may be bigger, bolder and louder these days but there are no discernible fissures in Edwards’ holy vision and his band of brothers march on with heads held high.