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White Willow - Sacrament CD (album) cover

SACRAMENT

White Willow

 

Symphonic Prog

3.91 | 122 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Sacrament" is White Willow's third release, an amazing album that finds the band reinforcing the stylistic maturity that had already been reached at, albeit not totally accomplished in a cohesive whole, in their previous album "Ex Tenebris". This means that the bucolic and the dramatic facets of White Willow's musical vision are more successfully integrated in this album than in the aforesaid one, although it's easy to notice that in many ways "Sacrament" follows in the footsteps of its distinguished predecessor. The fact is that this third effort encapsulates the ultimate symphonic expression of White Willow's mysterious sonic essence. But let's not dismiss their debut album's heritage either: in fact, "Sacrament" can be described as a creative recapitulation of the predominately intimate ambiences of "Ignis Fatuus" and the raw intensity of "Ex Tenebris", with a statement that stands a bit closer to the latter. The first two tracks might as well serve as symptomatic samples of this strategy - taking the best of both previous albums in order to catapult themselves into richer musical realms. 'Anamnesis' works perfectly as an opener for the album, reiterating the now typical WW mood in a reflective and moderately somber spirit. The most recurring muse for Scandinavian retro-prog bands, Sinfield-era KC, comes to mind. Although the track keeps a permanent slow rhythm pace through its 9+ minute span, it doesn't feel boring or meandering, thanks to its intensity and solid structure. The explosive finale is a most accomplished climax, making it one of the album's brightest moments. Things get a bit more elaborated and bit less epic in 'Paper Moon', a piece that comprises some of the most impressive Moog solos and mellotron layers in the album - typical Scandinavian sound. 'The Crucible' is the album's instrumental, a piece in which the woodwinds take the starring role: in no small degree, this helps the instrumentation to assume a more colorful mood. Additionally, the notable use of various motifs in a cohesive continuum allows the band to explore a major range of pastoral color and dynamics in a typically progressive vein. No WW album is an authentic WW item without a short acoustic bucolic ballad, and this is when 'The Last Rose of Summer' appears, a brief prelude of solace before the last two tracks, each one surpassing the 10 minute frontier. 'Gnostalgia' pretty much follows the path of the opener 'Anamnesis', especially regarding the massive display of reflective vibes and nostalgia (I'm afraid I couldn't avoid this intended pun). Meanwhile, 'The Reach' goes to far more places, allowing the band indulge themselves in a well ordained sequence of intense deepening in structured motifs, handle tempo and mood shifts with excellent proficiency and keep things equally energetic for both the calm and the bombastic sections. This may be arguably the best WW composition ever, at least when it comes to the usually pretentious standards of symphonic prog's tradition. It took a while for WW to create the follow-up to this progressive gem of our times ("Storm Season"), but that's a story for another review. Let's just say, as a conclusion, that "Sacrament" is one of the most impressive prog albums to come out for the last 10 years. All the usual ingredients of Scandinavian prog revival are there, yet they bear a fresh feel: no way to deny that White Willow is and has always been one of the most talented forces of the current prog scene.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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