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Repulsive and Hideous. - 90%

PhantomMullet, January 6th, 2012

In an age of evolving music, newer artists are constantly facing bigger obstacles in terms of creating high quality and creative music. After all, generic bands are easily forgotten and never really stand out with the exception of smaller fanbases. There are so many different black metal bands out there today that many of them are suffering from a lack of creativity. If they want a lesson in it, I would suggest they take a look at Woods of Infinity's first full length, Förintelse & Libido.

Förintelse & Libido (F&L) is the offensive, depraved, and chaotic black metal you've been looking for. I'll take that back - black usually symbolizes death, evil, and darkness - F&L is all over the place, featuring many different colours of the spectrum. There's something new for each track and even if the sound doesn't vary all the time, the mood sure does.

What a mess this album is! The production is all over the place, such that you could get a headache after listening to this for a while. Each instrumental element tends to do whatever the hell it wants at the most random times. At first there is no sense of chemistry between anything going on. Random media samples are interjected in places you wouldn't expect. The lyrics are mostly in Swedish, so good luck trying to guess what the songs are about if you don't speak Swedish. Actually, even if you did, you would still have no idea what the hell Ravenlord is singing about.

So...why bother listening to this? I find that the music pays a strong tribute to how the black metal scene got started. There's something hideous, impure, and decrepit within most of these songs. The end result gives off a dense vibe of misanthropy and anti-social/society themes, much different from so many other groups. Take the track "Tribut Till Självmördare" starts out with a sample from that familiar Sinatra hit "New York, New York" only to go into an ugly barrage of metal with some truly disgusting vocals. The band even tricks you in the middle by providing an excerpt from Moonlight Sonata, but you could always tell that there's something completely horrible in the air. "Missfostret Tellus" redefines misanthropy and destruction. Whenever I hear of this song, I picture society collapsing in a humorous way as the cretin population runs around like chickens with their heads cut off . Ravenlord's vocals sound almost angry, but also sadistic. Hateful and bitter would be another good way to put it. "Raping the Hexagram" is another good tune...the riffs and the drumming make for a really depraved sounding track. Melkor really knows how to add that emotion to otherwise simple riffs. Of course, the song is a complete sounds like they practiced only a few times and went with the best version! But I think that was the point and with the crappy production, I can easily see that being the case. The drumming as a whole really stands out - it's simple as well but is able to have that abrasive sound that fits great with the music. I don't know whatever happened to Bruthor, but the drumming really adds a lot of flavor here.

Some tracks are a bit more normal...examples are "Framtid" and "Dystopia." They still do well to convey that misanthropy and rejection of the "norm", The verses are a bit catchy and the guitar tunes don't seem as abrasive as in other tracks. Don't let that fool you, tough: these songs are still out there! If I had to take a guess, these might be considered gateway songs that one might listened to before getting into the more repulsive sounds of this album. Many of the samples they use are still amusing anyway!

The band had a demo before this which contained the same tracks as this album. I guess spacing issues made them omit the tracks that weren't included here. It's a shame because those tracks were great too. Nevertheless, Woods of Infinity have crafted something extremely repulsive and hideous. Förintelse & Libido IS the bacteria that kills everything the air, the salt on the soil, a kick in the groin to all those pretentious black metal bands, and the bull in the china shop. It is offensive, evil, and completely miserable...and that's what makes it most enjoyable. I suspect something like this will be considered very esoteric, but it's worth listening to no matter where your tastes lie. You'd be amazed at how something so ugly can sound so great!

Creative, but bloated - 50%

kapitankraut, September 27th, 2008

"It's all about the lyrics" is a common refrain among those arguing that Woods of Infinity is one of the most significant black metal acts in the world today. Their lyrics, almost exclusively in Swedish, are apparently the most original in the style. Not speaking any Swedish particularly, I can't say for sure if this is true, but the fact remains that there's a lot more to this band than just creative lyrics.

Woods of Infinity is a very creative band, and perfectly at home playing with the stylistic tropes of black metal. The rasped (although in this case, "croaked" may be a more appropriate term) vocals, buzzy guitars and generally gloomy atmosphere are all present, but so are a number of other odd features. "Brutalt Mord", on this album, for example, features a blues riff in the middle of it and for no apparent reason. "Tribut Till Självmördare" begins with a sample of "New York, New York". Again, this sounds rather incongruous, until one translates the title - "Självmördare" is Swedish for "suicide", and "New York, New York" famously opens with the lyric "Start spreadin' the news/I'm leavin' today". Ravenlord and his friends have thus subverted the original song, which is about leaving a small town for the big city, to give it the new meaning of leaving life itself in favour of death.

Indeed, most tracks feature something odd going on here. "Förlorad", the album opener, ends with a very distinctive guitar twanging sound. It's then followed by "Jorden Är Satans Hora", which at various points suddenly ends up with a mouth organ being played in the background, while Ravenlord mutters his imprecations.

Don't let my earlier reference to suicide mislead you, though. While Woods of Infinity can easily be seen as "suicidal black metal", they don't feature most of the tropes of that sub-style. Most of the music here at least is too active to qualify, although a lot of time is clearly spent on creating an atmosphere that could seem suicidal or depressive to some.

The major drawbacks to this album, however, are its length and recording quality. Woods of Infinity have a demo with the same title in their back catalogue - albeit with a different track order - and some of these tracks seem to have been lifted straight from that recording and without any extra work added. Yes, this is black metal and a certain lack of crispness is to be expected, but for a band so relentlessly dedicated to pushing the envelope as Woods of Infinity appear to be, it's rather a shame that so many of their experiments are buried in reams of hiss and buzz.

I also mentioned the length a moment ago. This is a 73 minute plus album, and unlike some albums reaching that length and more, it really shows here. The frequent experimentation is interesting for a while, but over the course of 73 minutes it honestly feels as though the band are simply throwing the kitchen sink into every track and hoping that it all works out in the end. Often it does, even when the low quality of some of the recording is taken into account, but a more unified album running a good 15 minutes shorter could very easily have been made out of all of this. It would have been much more enjoyable.

Overall, though, an intriguing release. Not perfect by a long margin, but some of what's going on here clearly sets up a solid base for the future.

The sound of depravity - 69%

HeidraCatharsis, November 17th, 2007

There are simply no band quite like Woods Of Infinity. Their tongue-in-cheek, sometimes even humor-clad yet most of the time very dark, depraved and twisted brand of black metal is, as others have said before me, something that people usually love or hate. Although they're far from one of my favorite bands, I'd say that I more or less apply to the former.

I'm a very big fan of music that breaks norms and barriers to the point of weirdness, i.e. mercilessly throwing lots of entirely different genres into a blender, resulting in a musical melting pot. In black metal, a genre which takes itself way too seriously, this is obviously a pretty uncommon occurrence. This is part of the reason why I enjoy Woods Of Infinity. Well known(maybe even notorious) for their heavy use of various samples aswell as strange breakdowns in their music, they have developed quite a reputation among black metallers. This is already very prominent on this the band's first full-lenght release: for example, the intro to Tribut Till Självmördare(Tribute To Self-Killer) consists of a catchy ol' big band shuffle blues sample, which then all of a sudden breaks into furious black metal with a tormented shriek from Ravenlord, and in the brilliant Dystopia, there is a breakdown with a classic 12-bar blues riff. While most black metallers would consider this despicable nonsense and an abomination of the music, I totally love it. This world would be so much better if black metal parodied itself a little more; I think it would relieve some of the tension and make people able to appreciate the beautiful art that it is even more.

Don't get me wrong though; this band have created some of the darkest audible depravity I've ever heard. Rarely does a black metal band really make me feel discomfort, even fear by listening to their music, but WoI certainly do at times. The lyrics, mostly written in Swedish, is the primary source to the atmosphere evoked by this band. These lyrics takes verbality to a whole new level; in a genre where every approach possible to write the darkest, most depressing lyrics have been used and used again, WoI makes my jaw drop in awe with their ability to find just the right words, just the right sentences and metaphors to describe the inner darkness and insanity that thrives within their souls. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: any non-Swedish WoI fan needs to have the lyrics translated for them immediately.

The music itself differs slightly from the releases that would follow this one. The production is more rawer, harsher and more noisy(shall I say more black metal?) than the newer material. The guitars have more of a buzzing sound to them, and blast beats on the drums are relatively usual. Ravenlord's vocals are also more high-pitched than on the following releases.
There is one thing that can easily be said about this album: it certainly doesn't lack variation. From slow, doomy parts to light-hearted rock riffs, moody clean passages and furious onslaughts of distorted black metal violence(not to forget all the peculiar samples), almost no songs sound alike. This goes for the vocals too; they vary between high-pitched, painful shrieks, dying pig-like squeals, grunts, moaning, chanting and just plain speaking and reciting. So, if you dislike monotonous black metal, you have nothing to worry about. However, if you prefer albums that follow a distinct structure, you might want to stay away from this.

This is not easy-listening music, that's for sure. It requires a lot of concentration from the listener's side due to the extremely diverse nature of the music, and I can imagine that since it features a lot of elements that are pretty unorthodox for black metal in general, it's really not for everyone. Especially non-Swedish speakers may have a hard time getting something out of listening to this music. Nevertheless, I recommend you give this band a try in order to form your own opinion on them, and I consider this a good introduction to them. This is an extreme band that provokes extreme feelings, which is in my opinion what black metal should do.