Sensory Overload: Doom-metal duo Meadowhoof is its own group of death

By Columbus Alive
From the December 12, 2013 edition

Anyone bummed out by the United States’ brutal World Cup draw can take some solace in the slogan slapped across Meadowhoof’s Facebook site: “Everything you know will one day wither, die and crumble to dust.”

Taking that into account, something like a soccer match against Germany doesn’t sound quite so bad, eh?

The local doom-metal duo, which could rightly be referred to as a group of death, brought its thundering output to Ace of Cups on a recent Thursday, conjuring an impressive amount of volume for a guitar-and-drums two-piece.

Bellower/guitarist Heath Sparks opened the show by making a simple request of the venue’s soundman: “I’d like all the reverb you’ve got.” Ask and ye shall receive, apparently. At times during the 30-minute set it sounded as though Sparks’ guitar were strung with rusted-out transatlantic cable, and the deep, rumbling tones emanating from his instrument repeatedly threatened to shake the venue from its foundation.

It was all but impossible to pick up on a single word Sparks uttered in his gremlin roar; the frontman might as well have been reading aloud from the Necronomicon — the fictional Book of the Dead — and for all I know he might have been (the lyrics published on the group’s BandCamp site allude to withered bodies and souls escaping the flesh). Though he spent a bulk of the set howling like an accursed demon, the singer remained a relatively calming presence, like the eye in the center of a particularly sludgy tornado.

Drummer Andrew Adams, in contrast, could best be described as rage given human form, and his face often twisted into a pained grimace as he punished his kit, his arms swinging down with the force of a cage fighter delivering the knockout blow.

Musically, the songs were almost universally slow and heavy, and there were a few moments when the deliberate pacing bordered on monotony. Generally, though, the duo added enough unexpected musical flourishes — a chiming riff that mimicked funeral bells, a brief-but-turbulent noise-rock tantrum — to prevent things from getting too bogged down. Life might be a drag, but Meadowhoof appears to have learned its music doesn’t need to be.