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This should have be listened 15 years ago - 72%

Colonel Para Bellum, March 14th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2003, CD, Thou Shalt Kill! Records (Limited edition)

I must say that there is nothing to describe in glowing terms here. This is true black metal as it was felt in those years. Just true black metal.

The recording is not too bad for those years (I think it was made even before 2003). That said, it's bad. There is a lot of fizz in the guitar sound, so some riffs are indistinct even, especially at speed passages. Perhaps if a live drummer had been involved in the recording process, the sound would have been... dirtier. But more living. In the present case the eternal (for true black metal) contrast of drum machine (which means clean and unnatural sound) and harsh guitar mars the impression.

At first it seems that Black Wood is a kind of mixture of Emperor and... Blasphemy. It's not just the vocals that were borrowed from Blasphemy (the vocalist with traditional growling periodically uses techniques from "Gods of War"), but also some guitar riffs. Yes, the main vocals are screaming. Traditional too. But aren't so great, to be honest. And the Emperor influence is more clearly: the Black Wood music is intense, rich with all sorts of passages (right, "Religious" isn't "Transilvanian Hunger"). Moreover, at the end of the album Black Wood perform a cover of "Cosmic Keys to My Creations and Times". They try to play it "one-to-one", and they almost get it right. So it's impressively – and not interesting.

As the album progresses it becomes apparent that BlackWood play – at least try – something their own. But the influence from other bands periodically appears. For example, in some places you can plainly hear Gorgoroth. The third song "Winged by Autumn Lake" begins with an impressive melodic passage, perhaps in the spirit of bands from Les Légions Noires. In general, BlackWood like to bewitch the listener with heartfelt riffs.

Also BlackWood use keyboards repeatedly. For them it is entirely a ritual instrument — no sugariness. The keyboards in the second song "When Coldness Wraps This Suffering Clay" create a melody with a bit of abstraction, that makes this song sounding inimitably. The fourth "Their Sun Is Set" is a keyboard instrumental. A bit, of course, in the vein of Mortiis, but in general the composition is more symphonic.

The sixth track "Darkness" (hmm, isn't it too long?) demonstrates clearly that even trying to experiment, Black Wood remain within the true black metal genre: in the episodes, which could be epic on a compositional level, the music sounds totally not epic. Maybe sadly, but not epic. And that's much better.

Well, I should have listened to this album 15 years ago.