Art often seeks to imitate nature, attempting to evoke the beauty and untamed passion that we find in the world around us. Rarely, however, do we find bands that can capture that spark and also portray a lesser-appreciated aspect: the sheer goddamn heaviness of the natural world. Doom-rock trio Shepherd hail from Denver, Colorado, a place perhaps closer to that reality than others, and have created an expansive form of doom metal that branches out to post-metal and rock to add depth and might to their windswept riffing. We're streaming the band's debut EP First Hand now -- check out the elemental forces at work.

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The opening two tracks, "Sea Cave" and "Chariot," quickly set out the most intriguing aspect of the EP: First Hand occupies a space between two worlds. It's got that timeless, colossal heaviness, comparable in my mind to Pelican's early work, but it also delves into modern metal and hardcore's tightly articulated low-end for close-up punchiness and stomping grooves. This is definitely not the norm in doom metal, but it leads to thrilling tracks like "Persephone" that can lift your mind off into the clouds, soaring on spacious flights of atmosphere and saturated reverb, only to impale you with lighting-quick riffs pulled off in staggeringly low registers. Coupled with the roomy vocals and enormous drum sound, First Hand keeps the immersion high while dealing out huge, memorable hits that won't soon be forgotten.

Though it's technically an EP, First Hand flows as well as any full-length -- in fact, I found that I'd forgotten it wasn't actually a full-length album until I wrote this premiere. At just under half an hour at length, there's enough to sink your teeth into, with subtle shifts in the formula introduced song by song to further tantalize. You will, of course, be left wanting more: the balance that First Hand strikes between far-off majesty and immediate devastation isn't easily replicated.

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The First Hand EP releases November 20th via Destruent Records.
Regarding First Hand, the band comments:

We are extremely proud of this EP. It has great potential because it appeals to the stoner and doom genres, and serves as a cross-over into the mainstream. It will not put-off people that don't listen to this type of music. We feel that it is a unique sound that incorporates a lot of our influences. We do not hear many records that sound like this.


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