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Excellent work of atmospheric malice and darkness - 90%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, March 4th, 2014

One of the most uneven splits I've come across, this EP pits one Woods of Infinity song against three very short pieces from Joyless - and the sole WoI is just a wee bit longer than the trio set against it! I have seen Woods of Infinity recordings advertised on the Aquarius Records website but have not been inclined really to check them out. All I was aware of was that their music explored some of the darker, more seedy realms of human psychology and consciousness.

WoI's "Uppgivet Hjarta" is a downbeat song of slow pounding drums and abrasive guitar textures that assume a demented air in the middle of the track. The spoken vocals are matter-of-fact and clinical in tone, though background field recordings of running water, a crying child and screams (taken together with the dispassionate lead solo voice) hint at the song's dreadful subject matter. The song gets better as it goes along with slight changes of key sending guitar riffs into realms of controlled derangement, the bass guitar plotting its own secretive melody path and the drums just pounding and giving nothing away. You can really feel the madness and unrelenting nervy intensity in the song's last couple of minutes as riff and rhythm loops repeat over and over and fade into the distance without resolution or release of tension.

Joyless' trio of instrumental tracks are so short they don't amount to much more than snapshots of what the band is capable of. "Ingenting" has a Rolling Stones riff, quite muted, that plays for the entire duration of the track with accompaniment from wispy wraith-like female voices. The piece's mood seems remote and sinister and a clang of pealing bells at the end leaves you in no doubt about the implied malevolence. "Winternatt" is a gentle though bleak, cold and darkly mysterious canter of soft strumming folk melody chords on guitar and what could be a banjo. "Stalingrad" is more conventionally dark ambient with a forlorn grey atmosphere. All three pieces are very good and highly atmospheric. Yet I feel so much more could have been done with them other than just to leave them as short exercises in creating distinctive musical dioramas of malice, dark and obscure mystery, and monotonous existence without hope.

Joyless should have been a hard act to beat and yet WoI's lone song just tips the other band's work in the level of intense darkness and evil it generates. The subject matter of this and other work by WoI can be hard to bear though it's arguably necessary for listeners to experience vicariously at least once in their lifetimes the sordidness, the bleakness and the hopeless and unredeemable nature of the people who engage in such activities.

As usual though, Joyless ably demonstrate their sharply idiosyncratic style and originality in the space of a few minutes. What more can they do? They're just unlucky that on this EP, they were narrowly eclipsed by Woods of Infinity.