Woods of Ypres
IV: The Green Album

Listen- this is my first exposure to Woods of Ypres, so this review isn’t going to go into the bands apparent shift from respected black metal into whatever they are being called now (Hippys, posers, sell outs, etc). What I am going to get into is how this Earache re-release of the bands 2009 fourth album is a at times, a truly draining emotional experience with some brilliantly evocative moments but a few moments of head scratching.

Fully expecting black metal, when the opening throes of “Shards of Love (Hurt Forever)” moped from the speakers, I was a bit taken aback, even more so when David Gold started crooning about someone leaving him and begging them to stay and pouring his heart out. I first thought to myself “Wow, this guy’s been through a tough divorce or something”, then “he’s really good at transposing his misery in his vocals and music” and finally “quit being such a whiny bitch and grow a pair”. But who am I to judge, right?

Luckily, the first two thoughts are the overriding feelings on this album as more often than not, the music is brilliantly somber gothic/doom metal with lopes and mopes with a tangible sense of despondency and loss. Gold’s baritone voice is actually very fitting to the hymns of breakups, suicide and all of life’s other shitty events, and reminds me a little of Funeral’s Frodo Forsemo. Which is ironic, as album’s best two tracks “By The Time You Read This (I Will Already Be Dead)” and “I Was Buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery” (with some truly gorgeous piano lines) have replaced “The Architecture of Loss” as my soundtrack to depression. Quite honestly, these two tracks have to be some of the saddest music I’ve heard in any genre; the riffs, vocals and lyrics just come together to form a perfect musical storm of tangibly depressing music.. Its a shame that the rest of the album never quite comes close again, though there is plenty more sonic despondency on the likes of the aforementioned “Shards of Love (Hurt Forever)”, “Everything I Touch Turns to Gold (Then to Coal)”, “Don’t Open the Wounds/Skywide Armspread”, “Into Exile: “Can You Get Here In 10 Days?”, “Our Union (In Limbo)” and “Move On! (The Woman will always leave the Man)” . But basically, those two songs make the album.

There are a few very slight nods to the bands past with some distant shrieks and growls thrown into the vocal mix here and there “(Suicide Cargoload (Drag that Weight!), “Natural Technologies”) and some sterner Paradise Lost-ish riffage occasionally (“Pining For You”). However, the few head scratching moments I mentioned earlier start to arise in these more forced moments. For example, “Wet Leather” “Halves and Quarters”, “Mirror Reflection & the Hammer Reinvention” could be Sisters of Mercy cast-off riffs and stand out like sore thumbs (despite their still down-trodden lyrics) amid the torrents of woe the rest of the album delivers .

Luckily though, a majority of the albums lengthy hour and 18-minute run time isn’t as distracting. But I have to admit “By The Time You Read This (I Will Already Be Dead)” and “I Was Buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery” are the only two tracks I tend to keep coming back to as they are simply perfect to me, and I catch myself often skipping the rest of the album. That’s not really a knock against the album, as its all got something worthwhile, but more of a testament to Gold and those two songs. Now someone please give him a hug.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
April 25th, 2011

Comments

  1. Commented by: Hammersmith

    I really enjoyed Pursuit of the Sun, Allure of the Earth, but everything from Woods of Ypres after that hasn’t really done anything for me.


  2. Commented by: krustster

    Pursuit of the Sun was an old favorite of mine for a while. I was pretty shocked to hear the change on this album (as I missed “Woods III”) but I like it. I also have to agree that those two songs are the best for sure. Pretty good review! The album as a whole was still really good and I thought the long running time worked in its favor as the few songs that missed the mark were easily dismissed as there was a whole hour worth of better songs. I was originally taken aback by the ridiculously depressing lyrics but it quickly grew on me. This is just a well-executed album.


  3. Commented by: krustster

    I’m a bit intoxicated so please keep that in mind when reading my disjointed post.


  4. Commented by: Dan

    I’m really conflicted about Woods of Ypres in general. They have some great music and lyrics/vocal lines. BUT. There are some terrible, awkwardly phrased (lyrically and musically), clunky passages mixed in as well. I think in some ways they’re still searching for an identity as a band. They got their start as black metal so they feel some commitment to it, but literally everyone except David Gold (who only played drums on “Against the Seasons…”) is gone and it’s only natural that they drift away from that now, but at the same time, you have to wonder if this (sometimes amateur sounding material) would have gotten them as far without that first album. I dunno. I’m also pretty damn fucking drunk. Conclusion: there is a lot more filler than i would like from a band at this level.


  5. Commented by: Dan

    And, for the record, I think that for some weird reason, a lot of writers are giving them a pass on the clunkier aspects of their sound and the whiny lyrics.


  6. Commented by: Dan

    Maybe because there is something very respectable about the band’s DYI/independent nature.


  7. Commented by: Dan

    if this album had been their “major label” debut, things might be quite different.


  8. Commented by: Dan

    YAY DUUURUNK POSTS!


  9. Commented by: STIFYY

    ^ HA HA HA!!!

    Fuckin Dan


  10. Commented by: krustster

    WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

    yeah I agree about the clunky parts, I think I know what you mean. Part of why it doesn’t bother me too much is because there are like 15 songs on the album and the bad parts/songs are a pretty small percentage of the run time.


  11. Commented by: E. Thomas

    RIP David.


  12. Commented by: thisblacksession

    Fucking terrible, shitty, unwanted news. Such a wonderful musician – RIP David and my thoughts to you and yours.


  13. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    this blows.


  14. Commented by: Old Pick Axe

    When Alice In Chains and Paradise Lost birth a baby of the Divine…


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