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A flawless last effort. - 100%

DukeofUnblackMetal, February 13th, 2012

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).