Woods of Desolation
The Falling Tide

It’s been 9 years since the Australian one-man project (aka D.) Woods of Desolation dropped As The Stars, one of 2014’s more critically acclaimed black metal albums that leaned hard into the Ghostbath, Vallendusk, Alcest, Spectral Lore, Mare Cognitum, Deafheaven style of atmospheric/post-black metal.

Well, again assisted by Drudkh’s Vlad on drums and keyboards, D. was back late in 2022, with another top-notch album of slightly depressive, but melodic and atmospheric black metal that still conveys the same moods as the bands mentioned above.

And as with its predecessor, it’s rife with despondent, tremolo riffs and jangly somber harmonies that come together for an emotive collection of songs that still certainly are ‘black metal’, but liable to upset the trv/kult corpsepaint in the woods crowd.

All the tenets of the genre are here; the distant, pained rasps, jangly, warm production, delicate bass line, and subtle keyboards. But like As The Stars, it’s about D.’s riff writing. The songs are all full gorgeous yet slightly morose 6/8 riffs that pull on your heartstrings and often peak with wondrous, climactic catharsis.

Immediately starting with the opener “Far From Home”, an early standout you get a glimpse into the album’s overall aura  with a transition about 5 minutes in that’s absolute perfection. “Beneath a Seas of Stars” is one of those tracks that will upset the ‘true’ black metal fans, as it mixes a commercial almost 80s synth pop pace with the shrill melodies (latter Deafheaven comes to mind- but still metal), and I would consider the weakest track on the album.

But the duo of “Illumination” and the title track shimmer into view with the former having one of the album’s best, melodic riffs for its opening few bars while the title rack has a more emotional, somber mood to its more restrained delivery- like Ghostbath playing old suicidal era Sentenced. In particular, the riff about 4;15 is a real ‘right in the feels’ type riff. Closer “Anew” has the album’s most upbeat riffage, ending the album on a surprisingly upbeat note.

The only downside is that at 36 minutes long and 4 of those minutes being an semi instrumental interlude, there’s only a little over half of an hour of brilliant music here.  And even and 7 minute or so chunks, I simply want more. Yeah, I’m needy like that.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
January 17th, 2023


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