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I have decided to, for the time being, focus on reviewing albums I consider classic. Whether they are modern or, well, CLASSIC classics, this is what I will focus on. And this album falls into the modern classic category. Woods of Ypres. A band that for some reason, has never gotten the credit they deserve. At least not until after David Gold’s untimely demise shortly before this album was released. I’ll admit, while I do like this band, I am not going to say they are one of my favorites of all time. Well, I should say OVERALL, they are not. However, “Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light” is definitely one of my favorite albums of all time. This surpasses any of the band’s previous works by far and ranks in my top 10 metal albums ever released. That’s right, ever. The overall list. Few albums manage to be this effective at capturing pure emotion in musical form. Sure we have some really good albums that do a very good job with this, but really, few manage to match “Woods 5”. This is one of the saddest, most melancholic and dreary records ever recorded. At least, of all the albums I’ve heard in my life.
“Lightning & Snow” opens up with one of the album’s few actual screams, and in comparison to the remaining tracks, is one of the more aggressive. You will quickly find that here, screams are not too common but this song, as well as a very few selection of others such as within “Keeper of the Ledger”, does boast a decent amount of them. Then, David’s singing comes in. This was, for sure, his finest moments. While listening to this, I really get the feeling that this was meant to be Woods of Ypres’ swansong release. Maybe David foresaw his death and created this album as a farewell to his fans. I realize this probably isn’t the case but the melancholy and misery emitted by the music certainly makes it seem that way. “Woods 4: The Green Album” comes close to boasting a similar effect and would probably take the place directly behind this album in terms of quality, but really, this was THE Woods album. We get some really nice solos as well such as within the track “Death Is Not an Exit” which is followed by a beautiful strings section. My favorite song from this band of all time is also present on this album. “Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye)” is a nearly 11-minute masterpiece that boasts many different musical ideas and also has one of the finest guitar solos to be heard here. The strings in this song are wonderful and oh so dreary. In terms of melody, this cut definitely takes the cake.
Aside from the standard guitars there are other instruments that take the music by driving force. Cellos and even an oboe are present in some of these tracks and something that really satisfies me would be the volume of the bass. It is very prominent in the mix but doesn’t overtake the music or overstay its welcome. The ambient intro to “Adora Vivos” is definitely something interesting, although it’s very brief and quickly takes off into the closest thing resembling black metal on this entire album. This is also short lived as the song slows down into the album’s standard doom metal style. But that intro is something neat. It’s very spacy and sounds somewhat sci-fi influenced. The last two songs, after “Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye)” which seriously sounds like David’s farewell to everyone, are “Finality” and “Alternate Ending”. It becomes apparent to me that these three songs are something of a trilogy of sorts. I’m sure this wasn’t intentional but for me, it really seems that way. These songs are all about the end of something, be it a relationship or life. “Finality” is the middle of the road towards the end and could sort of be seen as the subject finally accepting his inevitable end. “Alternate Ending” was actually one of the first tracks from this album I heard and remains one of my favorites. It is a simple number boasting some of the most gorgeous piano melodies to be heard here. The chorus is absolutely beautiful and extremely sad but also boasts somewhat of a sigh of relief. Maybe this truly WAS David Gold’s swansong and this was exactly how it was supposed to end.
This album has been routinely praised for the most part and it’s quite easy to see why. There are few other records that really showcase this kind of pure emotion in the modern era save for some of the more depressing black metal acts and other doom metal bands. It exists but it seems like the genres are more oversaturated than anything else. Too bad this had to be the final album but it could not have ended in a more perfect way.
I don't think anybody, even big fans of Woods of Ypres, saw this album coming. I recall when I first became aware of David Gold's death I only had a cursory familiarity with the band, and it wasn't until a handful of months ago from writing this review that I truly realized what a loss that was.
Now when I say this album was unexpected it isn't because of it's posthumous nature. It's also not because Woods of Ypres hadn't made great albums before, in fact I'm a staunch defender of Pursuit of the Sun & Allure of the Earth as an incredibly high quality release. No, the reason why this album was so unexpected is because it has a sense of musical urgency and scale that leaves it's predecessors in the dust. Everything has received a massive upgrade since Woods 4 alone, but the depth of the songwriting and arrangements is beyond anything the band had done before. For 62 minutes, David Gold and Joel Violette take you through an unforgettable ride through the world of WoY, with doom, gloom, aggression, and a strong penchant for hooky melodies.
The most obvious distinguishing factors to Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light are fairly surface level. Right from the stellar opening track "Lightning & Snow" you're already hearing a much more polished production, more confident harsh vocals, and more rhythmically varied guitar riffs than anyone would've imagined was possible for this band. Perhaps even more obviously, Gold's previously strong bass-baritone clean voice is mixed in a very prominent fashion and he sounds even more foreboding than ever. His layers of vocal octaves come in and out throughout the album creating this illusion of a massive voice booming out from the mountains. In this way, the "color" of this album is almost the greatest change, but beyond that it really feels like Gold made this album to be the be all end all of the band. He's writing his strongest lyrics (always a point of contention for some), his most passionate vocal melodies, and arranging it all with more power and precision than ever before. Now onto the rest of the album.
Structurally this album is quite brilliant at measuring it's melodrama. "Lightning & Snow" and "Death is Not an Exit" are sort of fun songs for the album as they combine catchy choruses with great vocal performances and heavy riffs, whereas by "Traveling Alone" the use of keyboards and slight orchestration begin to creep in creating the signature depressing atmosphere of this release. Quickly after that though the band hits you with the brutal "Adora Vivos" which alternates between full on aggression and mournful release in the mid tempo parts. Gold's not trying to drain the listener, so despite the attention the closing tracks of Woods 5 have received he still delivers it in a metal fashion. So really, despite Gold's lovelorn and confessional lyrics the album is actually quite fun to listen through. He keeps popping surprises at you like the hellishly low vocal verses of "Career Suicide", the killer guitar solo in the epic "Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye)", and the hooky and chill groove of "Silver" so as to keep the album varied and interesting throughout. It's not like Woods 4 where you would sometimes have a handful of interchangeable songs both stylistically and structurally followed one after the other, here each song is it's own character and the farthest thing from a filler track.
But as I mentioned, this album is definitely known for being a depressing experience. The speculation found in the some of the responses to David Gold's death has only been enhanced by his music and lyrics, which likely makes many listeners have a hard time listening to some of these songs in the same distanced way one might approach most music. While tracks like "Modern Life Architecture" and "Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye)" are doomy, crushing monoliths with a rainy atmosphere, gothic vocals, and melodramatic lyrics, it's definitely the final one-two punch of "Finality" and "Alternate Ending" that ultimately creates this impression on people. For me they are two of the most emotionally powerful songs by a metal band I have heard. I wouldn't even say they're the best songs on the album necessarily (that is far too hard a task), but they just seem so honest. Gold has been criticized and rightfully so for whining in his lyrics, and especially on Woods 4 he at times came across like a stereotypical self pitying "nice guy", so far away from what the music itself communicated. These songs are nothing like that. They truly embody the sort of heartbreak, despair, and angst they set out to achieve to the point where you can no longer sit back and laugh it off. "Alternate Ending" in particular feels like a sort of mourning for the first half, but through some of the most effective sustained power chord hits I've heard in metal, it creates the sound of someone's life fading away. This is really the ultimate conclusion to the album and ultimate conclusion to what was Woods of Ypres. I can't even imagine how they would've followed just this song let alone the entire album.
So I have to be honest. At the time of writing this review I would call this one of the quickest albums to be in my top 10 of all time. While I don't personally relate to a lot of the lyrical themes present, I fail to think of an album that more successfully puts the listener in the shoes of the songwriter in addition to delivering in spades in regards to the songwriting, arrangement, and pacing. With the bonuses of Joel Violette's magnificent piano work and guitar solos, and a surprisingly cool cover, it's just a very complete experience. It works as well on an emotional level as it does on a strictly musical and entertainment level, so I highly recommend everyone check it out.
For many of those in the metal community, David Gold’s (guitarist, drummer, singer and songwriter) sudden death in a car crash was a tragic, sobering event. His band Woods of Ypres was prepping for a tour in support of what he evidently thought of as his best album yet, and the music that he poured his heart and soul into was only just beginning to see a larger audience under Earache records after nearly a decade of obscurity. Despite the tragedy of losing a truly unique heavy metal songwriter on the top of his game, with Woods 5 - Grey Skies and Electric Light, Gold managed to go out with a bang, releasing what many (including this listener) consider to be his swan song.
Woods of Ypres’ 5th effort continues down a similar stylistic path to Woods 4: The Green Album, replacing almost all black metal elements with melodic doom metal in the vein of Katatonia and Warning. The clean vocals that largely dominate the album are mournful, expressive and largely pushed to the forefront of the mix. Gold bolsters a rich, commanding baritone that’s often double-tracked with a higher octave – it’s bold, booming and forceful, and an incredible improvement from previous albums. The vocals largely carry the central melodies of the songs, a departure from the riff-oriented songwriting approach of many other metal bands.
Opening track and album highlight Lightning and Snow marries melodic sensibility with startling amounts of muscle and energy; Gold sounds absolutely rejuvenated and inspired right from the start, and continues for an incredible 5-song winning streak right up until Adora Vivos. The latter is perhaps one of the band’s best songs; the verses blast away with purpose and vitality, and Gold’s vocals soar and shimmer over the life-affirming (and infectiously catchy) chorus. Despite the stellar songwriting, the production largely strips the guitars and drums of much heft – they sound thin and airy when they should be robust and muscular, especially given the vitality and energy of the aforementioned songs. Fortunately, this is only a miniscule gripe.
The album ends with two tender piano-driven ballads that swell with solemn grandiosity, and for 8 minutes you forget that you’ve been listening to a metal album this whole time. It’s a rare treat when a metal band can pull of a traditional ballad-like song with such heart, soul and sincerity as Finality and Alternate Ending, rather than simply being ham-fisted filler to break up the monotony. Both songs are heartbreaking perseverations on a lost love, and they’re exhausting to listen to – even if you’ve never really had your heart broken, you’re left feeling like you did.
A common criticism of Woods of Ypres singles out Gold’s nakedly blunt lyrics. Never one to muddle his message with complex metaphors, vague symbolisms and the like, Gold prefers to state the nature of his emotions with simple declarative statements. On paper, his blunt and unorthodox approach seems silly and simplistic, but when married to the memorable vocal melodies and Gold’s passionate delivery they become endearing very quickly, taking on a kind of awkward, yet achingly honest charm. By the end of the album it becomes hard to imagine it any other way.
Another thing to notice is the eerily prophetic nature of the lyrics when paired with Gold’s death right upon the album’s release. Gold’s choice of lyrical themes have always been dismal (check out Suicide Cargoload and Wet Leather off previous album Woods 4), but some lyrics seem oddly synchronistic considering his death in a car accident – on album closer Alternate Ending, Gold sings “back on the highway, under the moon, my final moments, still wondering about you…” I’m certain it’s just a simple coincidence, but it does add another dimension of poignancy and poetry to the song, and the album as a whole. It’s a tearjerking reminder of the tragedy of losing such a unique, inspired musician. Both Finality and Alternate Ending paint a picture of a man spending his last moments thinking of the woman who broke his heart. One can only hope Gold was in a better state of mind in his final moments, and given the career-best piece of work and bona-fide doom metal classic that Woods 5 – Grey Skies and Electric Light came to be, I’d like to imagine he was.
“A moment of silence for the dead, but not one moment more. The dead are to be forgotten; we are here to be adored.”
Not on my watch, Mr. Gold. You may be gone, but your legacy remains. An artist like David Gold deserves to be remembered, and with Woods 5, may there never be silence when we think of him.
Woods of Ypres are a band from Sault St. Marie, Ontario that lived in the metal underground for just a little under a decade before vocalist/guitarist founder David Gold was killed in a car accident in December of 2011. David made an impact on the lives of many with his inspirational music and deep rooted lyrics, so much so that after his passing his family are still getting emails and letters telling just how much the 31 year old changed their lives forever.
Grey Skies & Electric Light is an album that will poke and prod at every squishy part of your bleak and blackened heart, inevitably causing a few tears to be shed. Anyone who has heard Woods of Ypres' previous material will know what to expect when going in depth lyrically, but those not as familiar should know that David wrote some of the most profound and deep soul wrenching lyrics ever come across in any sort of depressive/doom metal; writing of death, lost love, loneliness, distaste for life and regret of taking the living for granted. A lot of the lyrical content in this album is enough to send a shiver down ones spine, as they foreshadow the unexpected death of the singer/songwriter.
At the tip of the iceberg that is Grey Skies & Electric Light, the first two songs are musically light hearted and upbeat. Flangers can be heard within the guitar effects and the background is filled with variant drumbeats that smooth the twangy guitars out nicely. "Death Is Not An Exit" has synthesized violins layered within the tracks which leaves a nice and elegant touch to the song, this same effect is also repeated in various other tracks throughout the album and can even be heard in the foreground at some points. These two tracks, along with others such as "Career Suicide (Is Not Real Suicide)" and "Adora Vivos" have a light pop/indie style to them which sets this selected material apart from all other Woods of Ypres content.
"Keeper of the Ledger" is where the album begins to slow down. The slower a Woods of Ypres song is, the more likely it is to carve open your chest and rip your heart out to show you everything that is wrong with it, then gently coax you as you re-evaluate the entire meaning of life. "Kiss My Ashes Goodbye", "Finality" and "Alternate Ending" are all great examples of just how emotionally heavy the content can become.
Not a single song on this album sounds like what comes before it which is refreshing. This provides great variety and showcases David's talents for writing both catchy hooks and depressive, melancholic riffs. Also showing off versatility, David wrote and performed the drumming tracks as well. Joel Violette is on this album playing bass, piano and lead guitar and does an incredible job in all three areas. The lead guitar is melodic and skilled, never repeating the same style on any song. There are various deep, memorable piano segments within multiple tracks, one of the best being "Finality", and the bass is generally barely audible.
In the song "Alternate Ending", the lyrics are startling when compared to David's cause of death.
In the darkness, under the stars, with enough warning,
To pull off to the side, in time
Back on the highway, under the moon, my final moments,
Still wondering about you...
A very haunting and sad foreshadowing of what was unknowingly to come for David Gold.
Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light is a heart-heavy masterpiece from one of the greatest voices of our time. The audio quality is superb, there is depth between the instruments, and it is a true one of a kind experience that will take the listener on a roller-coaster of emotion and self-reflection.
David wrote in "Adora Vivos":
A moment of silence... but not one moment more
The dead are to be forgotten, we are here to be adored
So this is my moment to David (Ypres) Gold, and not a moment more. Thank you for all that you were, and all that you gave the world of music. For touching so many lives around you both near and far. R.I.P.
- Villi Thorne
Before beginning with the review, I’d quote, “A moment of silence, but not one moment more…the dead are to be forgotten...we are here to be adored.". Gold is not to be forgotten, but to be adored after making such a solid album.
The album is a sequel as a journey divided into chapters, discussing loss, death, hope, love and many other aspects of life. And for those who are familiar with Gold’s personal life, they’d find the lyrics so attached to his own personal experiences in his love life and relationships (E.g. Silver, Modern Life Architecture). The lyrics are a whole entity of deepness, sadness, and philosophy that was well-written in a way that penetrates one’s inner being.
Musically, it is variant and fulfilling; clean vocals take over the growling in a wide range, using different instruments makes the atmosphere gloomy, provoking a darkly doom-ish touch.
Keyboards, piano, flute, cello, and guitars are used along with chants or doom-ish riffs throughout the album and play a major role. In some songs it comes out as mellow and slow as “Alternate Ending” and “Finality” and in others it appears rather heavy and more upbeat and this is clear in “Travelling Alone”.
With regards to inspiration on the album, there is a clear influence of “H.I.M” in the song “Death Is Not an Exit”, especially that to me this song is the most uplifting song here. Katatonia, Type O Negative,k and Paradise Lost have a share of effect as well, taking into consideration a well-earned applause for (John Fryer) here.
The most interesting song for me has to be “Adora Vivos", which is Latin for "Worship the Living”; it’s awkwardly different and yet so cohesive. It has the deepest lyrics I have ever read and for me it’s just a mix of flavors for whatever is craved in a song. And what is puzzling about the songs “Career Suicide” and “Kiss My Ashes” is that they relate to Gold’s recent death before releasing the album. These songs are deep, cohesive, philosophical, and concentrate on the band’s own individuality and originality with mixed notes, various keys and instruments, all leading to a wider way to preserve the album musically and spiritually.
Instrumental-wise, it is a brilliant album, particularly in the use of drumming and guitars as they vary and create a parallel darker atmosphere that indicates the band’s previous black metal side, but also where clean vocals take over.
A great album altogether and the best way to describe it is by using David Gold’s own words: “less art, less expressionism, and more of what you want when you want it”.
Woods 4 was a resplendent, sprawling and morose masterpiece. Its protagonist, ultimately, was victorious in his travails, leaving the listener in a state of transcendent triumph. Woods 5 cannot enjoy the same benefit; this album is inseparable in tone and spirit from its creator’s untimely passing. More pithy and focused than its predecessor, Woods 5 delves deep into the dealings of death. Many of these songs are concerned with life’s sudden cessation; that their content should be prophetic is really, truly and almost unbearably sad.
Woods 4 was an interstellar leap for Woods of Ypres. Woods 5 is a logical progression, a honing of the unique style the band had carved and a consolidation of David Gold's skills and prowess. The album represents a searing synergy of songwriting mastery, righteous riffs and fathomless vocals. The shorter compositions are tightly focused, circling closely around the band’s mid-paced, blackened doom prerogative.
“Lightning and Snow” and “Adora Vivos” display the full strength of David Gold’s vision, melding an almost nonchalant, chugging black metal vibe with screamed vocals. “Traveling Alone” and “Silver” are marked by irresistible and unforgettable vocal performances; rhythms, riffs and lead guitars melt together in the absolute purpose of song. Joel Violet’s excellent melodic leads are woven into the fabric of “Death is not an Exit,” its mid-paced march directly evoking Katatonia. Some tracks, like “Alternate Ending” and “Finality” are driven almost entirely by Joel Violet’s piano and David Gold's superlative drumming; the guitars are absent or buried deep in bereavement.
Woods 5 sees David Gold harmonizing against himself continually, overlaying deep prognostications with singing in a higher octave. The effect is spectacular and unique, marred only rarely by moments where the vocals reach for an impossibly low note and come up just short. David Gold also performed all of the drumming on the album; the rhythms are nuanced and organic with an almost impatient punk bounce. Even at its slowest moment of dirge, Woods 5 is still filled with a rhythmic urgency that deflects any funereal fatigue.
Woods 5 wraps sorrow and loss in sonic explosives; this is an album that begs for blasting and demands banging of the head. It stands as a reflection of its creator's indomitable spirit that such staunch morosity is so utterly uplifting. David Gold was a songwriter of the utmost skill; Woods 5 is an indelible, infectious sign of his craft. RIP David Gold.
Originally published here: http://www.metalinjection.net/reviews/album-review-woods-of-ypres-woods-5-grey-skies-electric-light
Woods of Ypres have always been a band that are very special to me. Aside from seamlessly and effectively combining different genres of metal and rock, front man David Gold was always able to craft such honest, passionate lyrics. It may seem like an incredible cliche, but it felt at times where David was singing my thoughts; what I was feeling at the time. Few bands have ever been able to touch my heart in that way. When David Gold passed away on December 23, I was at a loss for words. For a man I only met briefly last year, I was devastated. I had long felt a strong connection, not so much to the man himself, but his art. And for a band whose lyrics had often dealt with death and coping with devastating losses, it made this album incredibly difficult to listen to for the first little while. But after finally bringing myself to sit down and immerse myself in the record, I was glad I did. This is without a single doubt Woods of Ypres' finest release, and an emotionally crushing one at that.
Stylistically, this album is its own character. There are elements of many different styles of music, metal and otherwise, though the prevailing sound is bleak, melodic doom metal. "Travelling Alone", "Modern Life Architecture" and especially "Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye)" are brilliant examples of slow, haunting, crushing melodic doom metal. I am reminded of Katanonia and Type O Negative (two bands which David Gold was apparently a huge fan of). Other times, the record is a straightforward, driving rock record. "Career Suicide (Is Not Real Suicide)" and "Death Is Not an Exit" are good examples of David's ability to write simple, hooky riffs with a catchy, memorable, almost pop-ish chorus. There is even some piano balladry and thrown in there. Surprisingly, however, "Finality" and "Alternate Ending" don't sound out of place at all on this album. In fact, they rather compliment the overall mood. There is also some cello and oboe used in a few tracks, really adding to the emotional weight of the songs. The black metal of the past releases is largely absent on this record; "Lightning and Snow" being the only track that is reminiscent of the tremolo picked riffing and blast beats of 2002's "Against the Seasons" EP. That being said, it should not be assumed that the change in the band's sound means that the music is any less heavy. Some of Woods' most crushing material is to be heard on this disc. "Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye)" may very well be the heaviest song Woods has ever recorded (the only other I can recall is "Suicide Cargoload" from "Woods IV: The Green Album"). In short, this material is the finest, most diverse and indeed, heaviest that has ever been released under the Woods of Ypres moniker.
The lyrics, which have followed a rather consistent theme throughout the duration of the band, are bleak, depressing, melancholic, and heartbreaking. The songs deal with loneliness, lost love, and indeed, David's own demise. Given the events that occurred before the release of the album, the subject matter is doubly heavy and upsetting. Reading the lyrics, one gets a sense of the struggles that David endured in his lifetime. The words almost feel like a foreshadowing of David's death; a suicide note of sorts. Despite the tragic circumstances surrounding the album, there are inspirational lyrics to be heard. On "Adora Vivos", David sings "Love the living while they're still alive", telling us that it's important to not take people for granted while they are around; and "Don't wait till death to sing their praise". On "Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye)", he sings "To mourn the end is to say goodbye, not to yearn for that which we will never have again", a powerful statement which one can't help but view as a message to his family and friends who are grieving for him.
Overall, this record is perfection. Emotionally draining, sonically crushing perfection. And I am not saying that simply out of some need to worship someone who has passed. I truly believe that even if David were still with us, this record would be a defining moment in his career. It is upsetting to know that he will never hear the positive feedback and critical acclaim that this album has been garnering. RIP David Gold.
Fourth full-length for Woods of Ypres, and possibly their last due to the untimely death of David Gold late last year, although time will tell. It's weird when listening to this, as it does actually feel like David's swansong and his performance is undoubtedly passionate.
Sounding like a veritable mix of Edge of Sanity, Katatonia, and Agalloch seasoned with some post-black metal and doom sensibility, Woods of Ypres boast a sound which certainly has cross-over appeal. The melodies are very well done here, and ring genuine emotion. In fact, I would say this verges on beautiful in places, especially across the later tracks on the album; "Alternate Ending" stands out as particularly poignant, and really is a first class song.
There isn't that much left in the way of black metal in the band's sound, and there are certainly some post-rock elements that are going to put off purists. "Adora Vivos" brings the most to the table in terms of aggression, complete with blasting and violent riffs. However it is in tracks such as "Lightning & Snow" or "Career Suicide (is not real suicide)" that shows Woods of Ypres at their very best, the former of which is stupendous in its arrangement, and the latter being ridiculously catchy, reminiscent of something Dan Swano would write, although the lyrics do verge on pedestrian.
If this were to be the band's final album then I would say they went out on a high note. Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light is a quality selection of songs, and I'm sure fans of the band will enjoy this one madly. There's a lot going on here and the album is without a doubt a worthy investment of time.
Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com
With so much of metal obsessed with the realms of death, mortality and the passing on of beings it could be said the lack of unfortunate coincidences such as the one that has befallen Woods of Ypres do not happen enough. The phrase about living by the sword is what comes to mind. When Canadian's Woods of Ypres recorded their heavily morose "Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light" album, for release in 2011, they must surely have thought the moody-yet-catchy tunes likes "Death Is Not an Exit" and "Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye)" would lead their acceleration into the doom/gothic big-league. But with fate intervening and mainman David Gold dying in a car crash on 22nd December 2011, fate appears to have been aware of his lyrics and acted out a cruel twist of fate on a varied and promising band.
"Woods 5" sees WoY at their most accessible musically, with the black metal elements of their earlier work now all-but-gone and replaced by a Type O meets Katatonia vibe. The lyrical mood however is very somber, as if Gold had predicted his demise, with moments of optimism crushed by reflection of a life past that now sadly provides a fitting yet poignant memorial to the man. The soft production job which has smoothed any rough edges there used to be in WoY's music allows for 'Career Suicide" to hone the guile of any mainstream metal song played at dingy club nights while "Death Is Not An Exit" and "Lightning & Snow" show an impassioned side to the plaintive wailing with faster moments of riffing and solid drumming backing setting themselves apart. 11-minute "Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye)" is the album's highlight track for painfully obvious reasons given but even to suggest that is to forget the compositional strength of the song's catchy verse-chorus structure in the opening half and the crushingly sad closing sector that brings WoY as close to doom metal as they get. Followed by "Finality", a piano-led gothic track fitted with Gold's deep baritone vocals that would not have been out of place on old Type O Negative records, there is a real sense that as the album's closes out it plummets to it's creator's psychological depths; an unnerving way to close out not only on an album, but a band and a life.
In such tragic circumstances it is easy to be overly sympathetic to the artist and turn a blind-eye to weaknesses, but to do so would be insulting to the honesty that has gone into "Woods 5". The aforementioned production job, while easy on the ear and instrumentally clear, lacks the bite and gritty anger that typifies this kind of music and there are too many moments which plod along in a staid, unadventurous fashion until the kick comes a few minutes later. However what this is a pretty unique sounding record from a band cut down at a horrendously bad time and it remains a fitting epitaph and one David Gold can be very proud of as he rests eternally in it's shadow. RIP.
Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net
When the news reached me the day after David Golds passing, I was devastated, not only because I was avidly anticipating the new release, but also because Woods of Ypres had become "part of me" in a sense, over the past two years. Having had been through a lot of what Mr. Gold talked about and dealt with in his songs, everything related to me, in a way not many bands really could. Upon hearing of his death, I told myself that the next month I would binge on Woods music and have it act as a catharsis for his passing. Staying true to this, for the most part, was one of the better life decisions I've made.
With that being said, once he passed, it made me look forward to the new CD even more eagerly. When I finally heard the album, I was emotionally floored. I wasn't sure what to expect. When he first uploaded the track Career Suicide (Is Not Real Suicide), it didn't grasp me like his past music. I was a bit "letdown", but, when I heard the whole thing it caught me off guard. I'd like to think it was because I was listening to the song out of context of the whole album. I played the track, among some others, to some friends who aren't necessarily into metal, and their opinions mentioned his vocals sounding like the vocalist from Demon Hunter, and his screams sounding like Disturbed. Now, clearly these comparisons are coming from uneducated people, and to someone who is not familiar with the style/Woods may see the same thing, but I assure you, this album is the furthest thing from those.
As for the whole release, it is emotionally crushing. Each track brings a fresh plate to the table. I have had the entire album on repeat non-stop since I obtained it, and it still does not grow repetitive or boring. Guitar-wise, I feel like its a huge improvement from the previous releases. Not saying they were bad, but this seems like he finally found the tone and writing style he was aiming for, it fits comfortably and nothing feels forced. The drums aren't over the top, which, in my opinion, is perfect, because they fit with the tracks in an immaculate way. Altogether, the music flows beautifully together, catchy riffs, head-banging parts, and some slow emotional string based parts. Vocally, despite what anyone says, it is phenomenal. From the very few harsh vocals we hear, to the layered clean vocals, all the way to the extremely deep comforting vocals in Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye) Part 2. It is impossible to pick out a flaw in them, and though I love all of the previous releases, there certainly were parts that felt forced, or didn't seem to fit. Not the case with this release. Touching back on the layered vocals I mentioned, almost all of the tracks, if not all, contain them, but they stick out most to me in the track Silver. Something about the way it was done with that track is almost breath taking.
It's hard to grasp my mind around the idea that there will be no more music coming from this brilliant mind. I do think that this was a great way to end though, and am glad he was able to finish the release before the tragic accident. Though he may be gone, I believe he lives on through the music and through us, the listeners, who allow it to latch to our emotions, and bring comfort to the bleakest times in our lives. Something I am sure he aimed to do in writing it.
Best tracks: Silver, Adora Vivos, Death Is Not An Exit, Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye) Part 2, Traveling Alone, and Career Suicide (Is Not Real Suicide).
When you step into an album, especially a metal album, you have different expectations of what you're going to hear. I've been a "metalhead" for years now, with a pretty open mind. When I started listening to "Woods 5" by Woods of Ypres, I was expecting dark and drowning doom metal. This is something you would expect when you see that that is the genre they are given. Doom metal to me is very heavy, drowning with emphasis of the metal. Woods of Ypres and their latest effort really surprised me, giving a new definition to the doom/dark metal genre. Here are my thoughts about this album...
As the first song pours out of the album, it feels kind of mainstream, mostly in the instrumentals. The beat, rhythm, and sound just catch me off guard when I start this album up. "Career Suicide (Is Not Real Suicide)" just gives off a different vibe than what I was expecting. Listening deeper into the song, the lyrics are straight forward and dark in some ways. The second track, "Travelling Alone", doesn't really give off the vibe of mainstream to me, more so kind of in between. At this point I figure out why they are considered doom, even with the combination of the "weird" instrumental composition. The rest of the album definitely doesn't disappoint. "Finality" slows everything down, being the slowest song but definitely not letting up on emotion and darkness. Including a more profound piano and string instruments, this song shows the boundaries this band can push within the genre. The two ending songs are about the only similar sounding songs on the album, as they are "parts". "Kiss My Ashes Goodbye" is basically split up into two songs, the first part being sort of an intro to the ending so to speak.
So first impressions, I find the album pretty enjoyable the first time round. Definitely something different for me to listen to. If you're looking for a hybrid type of doom metal, like what you'd find with Job For A Cowboy or something, you won't really find that here. The singer's voice works very well to the contrast of the sort-of upbeat instrumentals, and you even get a chance to hear some deathy vocals as well. The variation throughout the whole album is actually surprising. There isn't a song that sounds like a filler, each one has its own identity and story. Even with the deep doomy vocals are portraying from the album constantly, you don't feel yourself getting bored at all. The common theme found within the whole album is very interesting, yet dark and real. Death, regret, loneliness, depression, etc. revolve around what this album is.
After several listens, I have to say this album really impressed me. Although to some it may seem very simple and predictable in some aspects, the album is still catchy and very replayable. The contrasts in the album really stood out to me, and I feel that's what helps this band stand out among some of the genre. If you're a fan of Ghost Brigade (like I am) you may be very interested in this band. I also think that this album is something you will have to listen to several times to fully appreciate and understand what it's about.
Favorite Tracks: Travelling Alone, Finality, Death Is Not An Exit, and Kiss My Ashes Goodbye (Part II)
Rating: 8.5/10 - Definitely a great album and would recommend to anyone looking to get settled in this genre. Excellent instrumental, vocals, and production.
It has been over a month now since David Gold tragically passed away in a car accident, and not a day goes by since then that I have not listened to at least some Woods of Ypres. Naturally I was very excited to hear this new album, and ironically even more so after David’s death.
This album is without the most accessible Woods of Ypres album and that is saying quite a bit because their music has always been relatively accessible when it came to Doom/Black metal. The music is far more rock like in a sense. There are barely any black metal parts now. The only thing that is similar to black metal is the harsh vocals which then again only exist in about 1/3 of the songs on this album. This is album uses a lot of clean vocals, which I do not think are a problem because I have always loved David’s voice. The one thing I did notice about his voice though is that it seems far deeper than before. The guitar work is excellent as it always has been, it still sounds like Woods of Ypres that’s for sure. The drumming is fine too, nothing spectacular, but they get the job done. The main focus on this album is on the guitars and vocals. The lyrics are the same as they always have been, talking about death, and failed relationships, love, and then there is even some atheistic lyrics which if I am correct have not been included on a Woods of Ypres album before.
The eerie thing about this album is that a lot of the lyrics have to do with David singing about his death, and little did anyone know he was going to die shortly after finishing recording this album. The songs “Kiss my Ashes Goodbye” and “Finality” are all excellent songs but scary when you read the lyrics for them. It is almost as if David had foreseen his own death, and he knew this was going to be the final Woods of Ypres album. This factor makes the album much more of an interesting listen.
Overall this album is different musically, being less heavy, but nonetheless it is an excellent album, and the fact that the lyrics are so ominous makes this album worthwhile. Now if only the lyrics were not ominous, if only they were just lyrics, unfortunately that is not the case, and David Gold is dead, thank you David for your music, it really did help many people get through some tough times, I know that as a fact, for myself and a friend of mine.
R.I.P. David Gold