January 13, 2014
by Jasper Willems
In his more recent work, Niels Duffhuës took liberty to incorporate his desert rock-genesis with the usual bleak, windswept narratives. The fantastic Among The Ruins shrewdly utilized heavy Sabbathian-riffage and sturdy yet punctual Bonham-esque grooves to permeate Duffhuës’s drawling bellow with added oomph.
The album addressed a glowing esteem for nature in all its reverence and perilousness, much like American peer Bill Callahan, doing so with brooding fine-toothing (“400 Steps”), feral onslaught (“My Woman The Bear”) and wistful sanguine (“A Way Out”). Duffhuës employed a more unembellished instrumentation while simultaneously exhibiting more resourceful penmanship than ever.
Duffhuës’s ominously-titled There’s A Storm Coming takes the same crude bravado as its predecessor: wisecracking opener “Cooking A Man” wants no part in Machiavellian ambiguity, depicting the disturbing chronicle of an anthropophagist basking in the prestige of a fresh kill. The song ends with his insanity bursting at the seams with unhinged vocal squalor.
Alternately, Duffhuës pulls off the same churlish bluster with “He Was Dead”, a meek, callously-sung ballad augmenting the brutal plundering and genocide of a Native American settlement in gruesome detail. It’s a pretty unsettling listen all the way through, instilling harrow by the use of restraint instead of force. Then again, the cover art, displaying a Native American man impaled on a steak, provides enough coarse imagery by itself.
While Duffhuës is a devious musician at heart, he applies all the sure-fire recurring elements that discern his music to the listener. Arcane death chanters “Man Of Horse” and “Men Of Horse” and are unmistakably Duffhuës, aptly serving as passages between his vivid backdrops.
While Among The Ruins felt like a thorough outline of Duffhuës’s prowess as both musician and storyteller , There’s A Storm Coming keeps you more on tenterhooks with its overall pacing. Arrangement-wise, Duffhuës intrepidly trims even more adorning instrumentation, leaving only the song’s core, unpolished essence as residue. The savage blues rock-stomper “Wolf Boogie” freight trains sparse and sullen acoustic strummer “River Song” to startling effect. The record reaches its zenith with the wonderfully ambivalent “White Dove With Black Feathers”, uneasily reciprocating between unpolished Bo Diddley-pounce and paralyzing organ drones.
While There’s A Storm Coming definitely has its platitudes (mundane mid-tempo rocker “Desert Blues” being one), Duffhuës alleviates the gap between his forte as both thespian raconteur and maverick sonic tinkerer. The result is a gripping collection of sardonic spaghetti-western tall-tales, sporadically oozing in bloodshot dementia.
You can listen to There’s A Storm Coming in his entirety here.