The formation of Gnod‘s new album Hexen Valley began in summer 2021 when Paddy Shine moved to Hebden Bridge to join fellow protagonists Chris Haslam and Jesse Webb in a co-op house at the 200-year-old NutcloughTavern. As has been the case since the formation of Gnod, the line-up of the collective shifted and morphed to fit circumstances – soon they were joined by fellow Nutclough resident Richard Chamberlain on guitar, and in the Hebden Bridge Underground rehearsal studio the four soon began intensive jamming in which certain distinct songs and themes began to emerge.
Inspiration struck not only from the chemistry of the four musicians in this confined room but all around – Shine cites the likes of shop noticeboard messages and pub conversations in Hebden as lyrical sparks; channeling by his reckoning the ‘valley fever’ that exists somewhere in the chasms and contrasts between the amazing light and vivacity of the valley summit and the comparative darkness of the towns below.
Meanwhile, musical shapes were making themselves known seemingly of their own volition – Haslam shifting back to bass for this setup led to the colossal low-end groove which underpins the monstrous 12-minute album centrepiece ‘Spotlight’. ‘Antidepressants’ in turn sprang from a mantra chanted at Nutclough to a fully fledged exercise in aural overload. Premiered below, ‘Still Runnin’’ takes shape across a sonic hinterland between Daydream Nation-style kineticism and sludged-out aggression.
Hexen Valley is where a monolithic sonic force – charged by the energy of its surroundings – makes contact with other realms. It’s the sound of a band whose fearsome intensity is only matched by their evolutionary drive. It’s Gnod at full power, and it’s a haunted place you might struggle to leave.
Hexen Valley is released on April 1 2022 via Rocket Recordings and can be pre-ordered here.