Workshed – Workshed (Rise Above Records)Friday, 13th September 2019
What happens when you first gained attention for the early years of a pretty well-respected and known doom/stoner metal band from the UK, then seemingly fade into obscurity for 20 + years? Well, in the case of ex-Cathedral members Adam Lehan (guitar) and Mark Wharton (drums), you rally together and form a new band with Workshed. The duo handles all the songwriting and performances on this self-titled debut: Adam taking on vocals, guitars, and bass with Mark once again back on the drum throne. It should be comforting as the two-piece channel that love of 70’s/80’s doom, stoner, and psychedelic influences into a spitfire cocktail that destroys in a sonic, groove-laden blizzard of head splitting proportions.
The experimental nature of their ideas can be quite fascinating to explore. These musicians unafraid to obliterate in distortion gloom for the crux of an arrangement, then lob a serene clean passage midway through before a gargantuan low-tuned riff shatters the airspace as you’ll experience through “If This Is How It Is”. Or twist the formula of longer songs by delivering a punk-infused stoner swinger for “On Sticks of Wood”, Adam barking out the chorus in conjunction to the pounding music in a scant 2:59, Mark injecting a small tempo groove change to elevate the swing sensation, cowbell accents for another win. Many will look at Cathedral as a strong reference point, but there’s equal affinity for Trouble, The Obsessed, and Motörhead beyond some Type O Negative moroseness present in these nine tracks. Simplicity builds character, the quieter verses and acoustic plucking for “A Spirit in Exile” setting up the next plummeting electric dagger that rises and falls over the course of 6:26, the distortion and repetitive bass passage epitomizing evil lumbering against the whispered, haunting vocals. Workshed never remain stuck in the lowest gear – aware that doom/stoner metal needs those bursts of energy to engage the listener before the next heavy song rips you to the core. It’s why “The Windowpanes at the Lexington” is a solid opener, while “Safety Behaviours” reminds you that Sabbath’s importance on the lexicon of metal will never vanish.
Even the stark black and white illustration for the cover may not clue you in to Workshed’s sound – and that’s okay. Adam and Mark appear intent to march to their own doom/stoner template and have made a fine start here.