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Woods of Ypres: Woods 5 - Grey Skies and Electric Light

Woods of Ypres is easily one of the most recognizable underground Black Metal acts, and one that is quickly clawing it’s way into the Metal spotlight. This Canadian group has issued four full-length albums, the first three a small trilogy with the fourth establishing a new approach to the group’s music. With many fans putting Woods 4: The Green Album down as one of the band’s worst, and their first three varying in opinion from flawed to flawless, it appears that enough fans of the band have had their cages rattled enough to be a bit worried about the group’s fifth full-length release, Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light. Today I received the full-length album as a digital promo from Earache Records, and I fully intend to sit down and spin the full thing soon to get a good idea of what the entire album is going to sound like, though I’m worried it may be a beeped promo to prevent piracy, which is a little rough to get past in any state of mind. But, for now, I check out the songs “Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye)” and “Career Suicide (Is Not Real Suicide),” which have both been made available recently on Youtube, as well as a few others.

When I sit back and think about Woods 4: The Green Album, I remember being very bored with almost every track on the album, as well as saw plenty of idol worship. Woods 5: Grey Skies and Electric Light so far is no different to me at this point. The very second “Career Suicide (Is Not Real Suicide)” I immediately proclaimed “Sentenced rip off!” loudly in my mind, though the deeper Peter Steele-esque vocals and more melancholic atmosphere made the track a little more unique to the group. The song itself has a little more energy to it, and really feels far from bland, which ends up being a good thing. The song’s catchier Doom Metal with Black Metal touches and a hint of a Gothic Metal atmosphere really does make the track catchy enough to make you feel like headbanging along, or even joining in. However, there were plenty of times with this song that I really felt let down when the vocals didn’t suddenly pick up and match the burst of energy the music had, instead sticking with being as deep as possible in the clean singing approach. Aside this single, there was also “Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye),” which is actually split up into two parts, though the video will lead you think it’s only one song. While the first of these singles started off the album, this set closes it up, and it’s probably the first part that made it’s way onto Youtube. I don’t know, I didn’t both to look and see which one. I admit, I’m lazy. But, with that said, “Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye) Part 1” still makes for a good track, though far from as energetic as “Career suicide (Is Not Real Suicide).” I was pleased to hear the vocals go up in pitch to match the energy and melody of the music though as it came to it’s close, and the darker tone of the atmosphere and music does make the track a little more interesting and made for a decent song, but nothing too spectacular.

“Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye) Part 2,” however, is a far slower track that incorporates a little extra musically. The song really caters to the Doom Metal style with insanely slow guitar work and even deeper singing that does see some violins thrown in at certain points such as the start of the song and the chorus. But, despite the shorter track length, it ends up just feeling like a recycled variation of the first part, just a lot slower, and actually rather boring, especially you just heard the damned thing already but better no more then the few seconds of dead air between the two tracks. With this rendition out of the way, I decided to give the second and third tracks of the album a spin. “Travelling Alone” carries the same catchy music and atmosphere that “Career Suicide (Is Not Real Suicide” had, but largely just at the start. Once that ended and the actual song picked up, I immediately wanted to skip it. The darker atmosphere is there, but I was bored. There’s nothing else really about it that stands out other then that and the chorus, which does feel a little more enjoyable, though the vocals just stay the same tone through the whole track and maybe vary in pitch by a sliver at times. This seems to be a trend after what time I spent with the album. Going into “Alternate Ending,” I wasn’t expecting much, but this track kind of surprised me a bit. The atmosphere to the song was a lot richer compared to others. The piano really works here to create a depressing and slightly more emotional setting thanks to the symphonic elements that clearly come from a keyboard establish. It all actually works with the bland, deep clean singing as well.

Honestly, aside rehashing “Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye) Part 1” and “Travelling Alone,” my time with Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Lights was surprisingly good. I didn’t mind “Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye) Part 1” despite it’s faults, “Career Suicide (Is Not Real Suicide)” was very catchy to me, again despite it’s faults, and “Alternate Ending” just felt very rich with every element working very well with one another that it actually left me really shocked and helped change my attitude towards hearing the entire album. I’m actually really anxious to hear this one and see if there are any other solid offerings like those here on this release. The few songs I enjoyed really did show Woods of Ypres kind of growing with this style a bit more, but this effort does show there is still a good deal of room for growth. If only there were a little more enthusiasm in the vocals, some of these songs would have captured my heart instead of building me up to only rend it from my chest…

Article based on digital review material provided by Earache Records.