Emma Ruth Rundle isn’t a metal artist but her music’s always found a welcoming home in metal audiences. Chalk it up to a more graceful distillation of doom metal’s patient despair or an embrace of open space that somehow feels heavier than a dozen cranked Marshall stacks. So when that crushing musical presence actually happens, in the form of a collaborative record that juxtaposes Rundle’s songs with the sludgy majesty of Thou, it sounds natural—even elegant. On “The Valley,” the nine-minute closing track from the two artists’ collaborative debut, May Our Chambers Be Full, Rundle has full command of the slow-burning ballad, made richer by a deceptively dense strata of instrumentation beneath its aching melody. The song’s haunting arrangement, surrounding Rundle’s haunted lamentations of psychological struggle, don’t need anything else—but those extra elements come in gradual, glorious stages, adding first some Godspeed You! Black Emperor-like apocalypse strings before the eventual explosion of volume and feedback. “The Valley” is only a metal song for a little over a minute, but the climax feels like a triumphant climax. At any volume, though, “The Valley” is crushing.
From May Our Chambers Be Full, out October 30 via Sacred Bones
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.