|Black Metal, Folk Metal
September 11th, 2012
Release length: 1:06:51
Curse has an excellent production value that works with both styles to establish a truly inspiring atmosphere. Everything here sounds heavy, and at times rather sinister. The guitars have a very suiting crisp sharpness that remains slightly hidden by the drumming. The cymbals have a slight echo to them that aids in creating a melancholic tone, the clicks of the bass kicks are low but still dominant enough to add a nice bluntness to the mix that the rich, yet somewhat louder snares offer a nice contrast to. The additional keyboards work well to push the atmosphere to the forefront of the recording, offering up a truly engrosing and believable Folk tone to the already melancholic and grim environments the other instruments create. All of this is accentuated nicely by the deep, almost thunderous bass presence that doesn’t offer much of a unique performance, but still remains an important piece to the final product. The final piece to this crushing effort stems from the enthusiastic rhasps that perfectly match the energetic music and the landscapes they create, and the deeper shouting that stands out when needed to remind you of the ominous, intimidating side of the group’s music.
Even at the start of the album, Wodensthrone does a superb job of establishing their Folk roots. The softer music that makes up “The Remaining Few” against the sound of rain falling makes for a very relaxing piece, giving you the sense of sitting outside your log house or perhaps a cave as the water hits the awning above you, and crashes to the ground in front before quickly shifting into a faster, heavier, and woe filled offering through the guitars. The pace of “Jormungandr” picks up with drums that hammer away at the listener. Depressive Black Metal chords stand out to ruin the soothing start, an event for the better as the rhasps of the vocals are greatly drowned out by the music, though the deeper shouting does come through a little stronger to give a bit of a more ominous vibe to the track. This seven minute plus offering rarely lets up, and when it does, it seems to harken back to the rain filled environment of the introductory “The Remaining Few,” wrapping everything up nicely with a far less emotional experience, but one that carries a bit of a grim melody behind the guitar work and solo that eventually arrives and paves the way for some grander keyboards that make the material simply beautiful in the darkest of ways.
But, not all of the ear-catching material is fast paced or soaked in a Depressive tone. “The Great Darkness” really stands out due to its slower pace, and a very ominous tone it gives off. The loud music really helps to make it feel like the song simply towers over you until around two and a half minutes in when the music does pick up. It may not have such a tall intimidation, but the shift between it and the more aggressive material is well done, and still manages to keep that thunderous presence alive with each increase in speed that makes the assault more noticeable. “Battle Lines” takes on a very subtle glorious vibe that can sometimes seem hidden against the battle-themed music. This makes more of a generally aggressive track than the rest, and the atmosphere doesn’t really stick out as much as the tight Black Metal foundation does, leaving behind some of the Folk elements. This does cause it to become more of a traditional piece, but still a solid and enjoyable one.
This is where the album starts to lead up to the grand conclusion. “The Storm” is another more traditional piece, but in a modern blast beat driven approach. The hostility and fury drips from the song, never letting go of the listeners throat other than to throw some melodic hooks from the keyboards into the mix. This may sound out of place, but they truly make a nice contrast to the intensity, and cause the song to be far more unique, as well as headbang worthy compared to those before it. This all builds to a grand conclusion, reaching the most epic of heights this cut can go before suddenly crashing to a hault, and entering “The Name of the Wind” to wrap things up. The song introduces unplugged instruments against the sound of dull winds in the background. The music here slowly continues to build, taking its time to reach the grim, yet still epic levels you had just heard. During the faster sections, you can’t help but sit back and simply take it in. While the atmosphere isn’t as rich as its predecessors offered, it does give closure, though the slower sections that do appear offer a far more glorious element to the music that will instantly grab you.
The only time that the atmospheric traits of Wodensthrone don’t work on this album is when the nature effects simply come off more like padding. “First Light” is a phenomenal song overall, but as it reaches its end, itgoes to some water effects similar to rain, but not like on “A Few Remain.” It sounds good, but there really ends up being no reason for it to last as long as it does, even as a link to “The Great Darkness.” The same goes for the start of “Battle Lines,” though it is arguable. The sounds of people readying for battle or other effects does suit the lyrical theme of the song, and helps to build up the expectations of the listener, but, again, it just seems to go on too long, and in a way violates some of the already established environments.
When all is said and done, Curse ends up being an album you really do need to sit down and listen to more than once to truly appreciate. Wodensthrone have put together a sharp, atmospheric offering that gives listeners multiple environments that, aside “Battle Lines,” all manage to converge with one another nicely for a truly emotional experience. There are plenty of hard hitting songs, both musically and to your memory, that will have you coming back time and time again. There are a few faults, though largely cosmetic, coming from some natural effects that either last too long or cause a great divide between the established tone of the recording that can pull you out of the music a bit. If you like when an album can paint vivid mental visuals, or just love music with a strong atmosphere, then this is a recording for you, especially if you enjoy either of the styles this band performs. Fans who have been anxious waiting for Curse will not be let down, and even the newcomers to Wodensthrone should take the time to give this album a spin more than once to decide just how much an impact the overall product will really have on you, and not just from a sample of a song or two online.
01. The Remaining Few – 0:39
02. Jormungandr – 7:00
03. First Light – 0:58
04. The Great Darkness – 7:57
05. Battle Lines – 11:23
06. WyrgÃ¾u – 9:28
07. The Storm – 5:58
08. The Name of the Wind – 13:28
|Overall Score: 9/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Candlelight Records.