On the cover to the new record from Ocean City (MD) groove merchants Dirt Woman, Hayden Hall’s art depicts a man sitting in a glass dome, women either side of him, his feet in a pool of water and lush plant life all around. Outside the dome, withering survivors plead for help amidst a barren landscape of jagged rocks – the man looks on without care. It’s a powerful image with clear connotations relating to global warming, the current political climate and our future as a species, not to mention the apathy and contempt of those in charge. In their hopeless lyrics, the band express these concerns vividly, but by being upfront about the album’s themes, the music itself seems to aid in this message too. The groove-laden riffs beat down like the scorching sun, the weighty percussion trudging forwards like a journey through the thick sand of a parched desert.
The Glass Cliff is a stoner metal delight, combining influences from across the genre to emerge with a sound exemplifying all of its strengths with none its drawbacks. The adventurous but lackadaisical riffs of Sleep, the doomy atmosphere of early Black Sabbath, the otherworldly allure of Windhand – it’s all here, operating in tandem like a doom Megazord.
To get the lowdown on this finely-honed stoner machine, we posed some questions to guitarist and vocalist Zoe Koch.
How did the band come together, and how would you describe what you do?
We started as a two piece just fucking around in Gabe [Solomon, guitarist]’s garage, we played shows around town especially at a venue called W.O.R.K. We had a show at the Golden Goat in Newark (DE), Kearny [Mallon, bassist] showed up and after our set he asked if we wanted a bassist, that was when we took Kearny in as our own. Eventually we coerced Avery [Mallon] into playing drums and Gabe picked up guitar, a month after playing musical chairs with our lineup we recorded a demo EP so we could book gigs and start working towards recording an album and getting a van.
Your music seems to be an amalgamation of different styles from within the doom scene. Who (or what) would you cite as influences on your sound?
We all cite different bands as our influences on this album but we meet in the middle with bands like Black Sabbath, Sleep, King Crimson, Windhand, Rush, Blackwater Holylight… the list goes on.
The album’s cover and music seem to reveal a sociopolitical message behind your work – perhaps a comment on the furthering divide between rich and poor, or how the richest are unlikely to be affected by climate change despite being the main contributors? Could you tell us a bit about the record’s themes?
Yeah I mean you hit the nail on the head, the album cover itself is sci-fi but it’s true that when environmental disasters hit they effect the lower and middle class the hardest. It might take longer for the rich to feel the true effects and anxiety of climate change but it will catch up to them. It’s hard to be young and know you’ll see extreme man-made devastation to the environment, animals and humans. I wanted the lyrics to in some way speak to that fear and loss of hope. I still believe there could be a culture shift towards sustainable living but I don’t think it’ll come without massive loss of life.
Apart from some of sludge’s grittier realms, political themes aren’t that common in the stoner/doom genre, why do you think that is? Do you think the genre’s well-suited to tackle such issues?
I think there have been a lot of bands in the stoner/doom genre that expressed political themes in their music, rock music in general is a fantastic vehicle for progressive thoughts and expression. Looking back to Black Sabbath’s Paranoid they really dived into political issues of the time.
You’re named after the late Donnie Corker. What made you decide on the name?
After Donnie Corker died taking a look into his life made us want to name ourselves after Dirtwoman. I feel like he wasn’t widely known about but Dirtwoman was a true community activist. I think we’d all be better off with a Dirtwoman in every town.
What have you got planned for the future?
We just want to get a van and go on tour. As long as we’re together and making music we’ll be happy.
The Glass Cliff is out now on Grimoire Records. Order here.
Words: George Parr