The Shrouded Grove

John D. Reedy’s Writhe, a one person outfit from the United Kingdom, is a self-described atmospheric/post metal band. As I can’t claim to be an expert on anything post-any kind of metal, so my opinion is very simple.

When I first listened to this self released, two-song demo EP, I got about halfway through the first track and thought to myself, “I really should put some headphones on, I know I’m missing about two thirds of what’s going on.” But that’s how it is when you are listening for the oven timer and trying to enjoy some new music at the same time.

And boy was I right. After plugging in my head phones, the layers of music that blossomed almost astounded me. There’s the atmospherics that manage not to be too overcast, the drums, multiple guitar rhythms, and multifaceted vocals. The first track, “The Shrouded Grove,” opens with the aforementioned layers, gently segues into a smooth, acoustic guitar section with billowing vocals, and then leaps back to a very different, but still just as complex concluding portion.

“The Slumbering Council” starts off very somber with mournful guitar strokes and a repeated keyboard note guiding beautiful vocals. At first I was hoping this opening would continue longer before launching into something else, but the stuff that follows is just as good, mostly. Rhythmic drums and a not so subtle dissonant guitar progression eventually lead to a somewhat bland haze of overlapping noises. This haze descends into an atmospheric black metal delight though, as Reedy’s vocals reemerge, cold and distant. The track concludes similarly to how it begins, and I found it to be very fulfilling.

With both songs weighing in at just under ten minutes, it’s close to a solid 20 minutes of engaging metal. An obvious comparison would be Altar of Plagues’ two song EP Tides. However, even with Altar of Plagues‘ pedigree, I have to say I enjoyed The Shrouded Grove more. It’s more agile and quick on it’s feet. Maybe not quite as heavy as Tides, but more satisfying in a different way. Another close comparison would be the final track from Fen‘s 2011 LP “Epoch”, a song called “Ashbringer.” I don’t think “Ashbringer” quite approaches the complexity of either track on “The Shrouded Grove”, but it’s a little cleaner, and maybe a little more upbeat. Something else I can appreciate is, though the lyrics are about nature and man’s relationship with it, the presentation is not too over top, as on some Drudkh albums.

The production on “The Shrouded Grove” is very good; every layer is clear and vibrant. The cover art is also very good. Yes, I probably don’t need to say much more than it’s a shrouded grove, but I think it’s very fitting and eerie. Overall, a thundercloud of an EP that’s bodes very well for future endeavours from Writhe and Mr. Reedy.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Bill Wood
November 21st, 2014


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