Ryan McKern’s “The Stillwater Sessions”

Written on

July 18, 2014

Ryan McKern’s “The Stillwater Sessions” is hellish folk. McKern led Wolvhammer for their demo, first EP, and debut full length album before parting ways. It’s a real shame that McKern’s current project doesn’t have more attention. After recently discovering the first two volumes of “Songs of Townes Van Zandt” as covered by current powerhouses in the underground metal scene such as Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till (Neurosis), Mike Scheidt (Yob), Stevie Floyd (Dark Castle and Taurus), Wino (The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, Saint Vitus, etc.), Nate Hall (U.S. Christmas), and John Baizley (Baroness), I feel that Ryan McKern fits right in with his brilliantly clean vocals quivering behind an icy vibrato – accompanied by meaty rhythm guitar and an echoed electric solo guitar that complements McKern’s voice wonderfully. Occasionally you will hear a harmonica furthering the folk and blues tone having been wasted by metal for a generation.

Folk is back again after being wasted with genres and subgenres, only this time, folk is being delivered through a minor scale with modern wounds that are endearing and resoundingly relevant in the most refreshing way imaginable. Post-punk Nick Cave vibes mixed up with underground sludgy roots, uprooted and exposed in a minimalist busk of garage-y goodness. What’s more, this album is available for free! How can you lose! Be inspired! Melancholic folk is fantastic. I’m throwing names around here like hellish folk and melancholic folk since it’s still emerging as a sound. Maybe one will stick, who knows? Let’s just all be excited and listen together, eh? Support Ryan and spread his wonderful art around. I wholeheartedly believe his art is by far more relevant than a lot of the stock tones that have been pulsating within the underground scene for the past twenty years as fun and exciting as they are and always will be. Yes. This is all very very exciting.

Casey is a moderate recluse residing in Portland, OR. Metalhead with a background in English literature. Trying to live before it's too late. Good thing there is all this beer, music, paper, and ink.