ALBUM REVIEW: Druids – Shadow Work


Psych rockers Druids have historically inspired scribes to reach for the thesaurus, turn to the epic, mythic and mystical – words like ‘monumental’, ‘colossal’, ‘ominous’. ‘bludgeon’, ‘pulverise’, ‘rampage’. Now their splendid, accomplished and invigorating new album inspires another word: ‘Family’.

Why ‘Family’? Not simply because this three-piece consists of brothers Drew (bass) and Luke (guitar) Rauch, plus superb drummer Keith Rich, but also because there comes a time for any collective to celebrate a unique bond, declare a pure identity, make a passionate declaration of independence: “We are who we are, and we always have been.” Like family.

Iowa trio Druids upped sticks from hometown Des Moines to relocate to Salt Lake City, Utah, to record Shadow Work (Pelagic Records). Maybe it was the sight of the Rockies that opened up vistas, upscaled the dynamic and projected perceptions on to a bigger screen, while keeping the roots earthy and emotional. Which is not to dismiss all that has gone before, since 2008 – this has been a band on the rise for some time.


Opener ‘Aether’ reaches down to the obsidian origins of the heart of darkness. Drums epic and tribal, eerie and hypnotic, a barbarous battering. ‘Aether’ bleeds into ‘Path To R’, vocals with a punky, grungy edge, guttural and confrontational, like Killing Joke. The chanting chorus seems to deliver a gospel / creed / appeal to a new ‘Beat’ generation: “We are … we are … the shattered ones!” You can’t get more ‘Beat’ than ‘shattered’. 


The album title references Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung. ‘Beat’ means Kerouac, Ginsberg, Cassady. As Kerouac said: “I want to work in revelations, not just spin silly tales for money. I want to fish as deep down as possible into my own subconscious in the belief that once that far down, everyone will understand because they are the same that far down.” 

Druids bring it right up to date with their sheer, ecstatic GRIND GROWL GRIST GRAFT GROOVE.


If you don’t do psych/ stoner, if you don’t have Karma To Burn or can’t Sleep, there is still much to love; much trad. ‘Hide’ says: “I tried to heal myself, From what I used to be, I tried to free myself, From who I’ve always been.” ‘Othenian Blood’ slows things down before rebuilding, writhing, re-writhing and redefining. Closing track ‘Cloak-Nior Bloom’ seems to vanish into a synth-time-wormhole-vortex, but then fresh blossoms appear via acoustic, pastoral guitar notes, dripping, dropping, spraying down like blessed rain … before it all kicks off again, exponentially. 

It’s a family thing.


Buy the album here:


9 / 10