Mercedes Lander was a force to be reckoned with in the nu metal movement of the early Naughties, as part of her band Kittie alongside sister/frontwoman Morgan. After years on hiatus, one may wonder what the band members are up to, and in the case of Mercedes, it’s fronting her own band, a sludge act called The White Swan. Their fourth and most recent EP, Nocturnal Transmission, is a four-part soul-renderer of psychedelic doom and massive riffing.
Starting off is the darkly captivating “In Love and Ritual,” with an ominous intro full of jarring bass and thumping toms. Lander’s voice is a beautiful one without becoming too saccharine for the track, and the guitar work laid down is low and slow with plenty of feedback to boot. Even several listens later, it’s as hypnotizing as it was the first go-round. The bridge sees a key change and more uncanny vocal layers added for a gothic twinge that the track didn’t need, but that’s not to say that said twinge is unwelcome.
Next comes the EP’s title track, with huge riffs and plenty of crashes from drummer Shane Jeffers. The low tones and bass guitar are rattling and heavy, but the song keeps a melodicism about it not unlike Deftones. The chorus is straightforward and impossibly simple, but goes down incredibly smooth. As the song comes to a close, we get a wah-tastic and melody-mimicking solo.
“Purple” is the final original track on the release, and the clean guitar that opens up the song turns into an overdriven onslaught. The guitar work shines through the brightest on this track, with a middle of the road tempo and a slightly restrained vocal performance from Lander. It’s the most droning track on the EP, but maintains a sleek edge.
A cover of Tracy Bonham’s “Tell It To The Sky” is the closing track, giving the Nineties alt-rock classic a fresh coat of sludge. The White Swan’s interpretation is a faithful one, with just enough of their signature drone to make it their own. It’s a high note to end on, even with the lower notes that the guitars and bass reach, and closes out an excellent release. Fans of Kittie, fans of sludge and psychedelia, and those overlapping must give this EP a listen.
Nocturnal Transmission is available now via War Crime Recordings.