Listening to another Woods of Desolation record could take some surmounting of ones feelings, as they probably made bad experiences in the past. Their first releases did leave a bad aftertaste in many listeners mouthes, as you could not actually say if they really tried to make music or just wanted to test if noise would sell as well. In contrast, their latest record just advanced to a candidate for the “record of the year”. Did the crawler really evolve to a beautiful butterfly?
Sorh really was one of the most deterrent records of the last years and the aftertaste it has left in my mouth really did scare me off. So it did take a little while until I actually tried listening to Torn beyond Reason, not least because the beginning of the title track did bring memories of Sorh back, as they kind of reuse a melody there. After the first daunt you soon will realise, that this was just an unhappy coincidence and they matured a lot in terms of production, composition and sound in general.
The mentioned melody was first used in the song The Leaden Sky Torn on Sorh which was the reason for the first shock you might get while starting to listen to the new record. The production on the whole record has matured a lot and so it came that the sound is crystal clear and perfect for the atmosphere of the record. Howsoever the sound of the guitars is not very clear and well defined, it is more blurred and flowing into each other, without stating that this would be a flaw. The other instruments are using the frequences that are left unused and so the whole frequenzy range is filled with sound. All instruments are equally present, the only flaw in terms of production are the vocals.
The biggest change from Sorh to Torn Beyond Reason can be found in the melodies, as they are far beyond the status of being depressive and they are creating a really massive atmosphere. The vocals are glutted with effects and are pending between clear vocal lines and desperate growls. It happens a lot, that the vocals are in the same frequency range as the guitars and in combination with their subtle production it can be hard to hear them from time to time.
The sound may be dominated through melancholic black metal elements but there are huge post-rock/post-black metal influences, like they could be found in the later Austere records. This usage of modern influences does affix a stamp to the sound. The influences are not only positive, as the sound, which covered nearly every frequence from the beginning, sometimes is overladen which degrades the quality of the composition.
Another negative point is, although it may not be the biggest flaw of all times, that some melodies and drumpatterns are reused throughout the record. If you want to see this positive, you may label it as conceptual. To not conclude with something negative, I want to emphasize the production, as it is really rare that the frequency ranges are used in such an effective way, and it is even rarer that the perfect balance between rawness and great melodies was found like on this record.
Woods of Desolation seem to take all the critics to their hearts and extracted the basic core of their music from their previous records and then are presenting it with a new livery. This new livery does provide their songs with an incredibly appeal, so that you have to listen to it. The post-rock/post-black metal influences are woven perfectly into the basic material and are enhancing the positve aspects. Although there are many perfect moments, there are some flaws as well. First of all the similiarities between some melodies and drum patterns should be mentioned, another flaw would be the problem of the vocal lines or that the sound seems to be overladen from time to time. There is some room for improvements though, and I really hope that further records can cover up the flaws. Torn Beyond Reason may not be the record of the year, but it is definetaly a safe bet, so buy it!
Date of Release: 25th February 2011
|1.||Torn Beyond Reason||06:23|
|3.||An Unbroken Moment||06:59|
|4.||The Inevitable End||09:10|
|Total Playing Time:||37:43|