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Woods Of Ypres - W4: The Green Album CD (album) cover


Woods Of Ypres

Experimental/Post Metal

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3 stars Canadian black metal act Woods of Ypres received quite a bit of positive attention for their 2007 effort, The Deepest Roots and Darkest Blues, so this album surely must have been quite a surprise when it was released two years later. W4: The Green Album marked a major change in Woods of Ypres' sound - black metal is almost entirely absent from the mix, clean vocals are often dominant, and a progressive doom metal edge set this apart from anything the band had done before. Although the album has its fair share of critics, I'm in the camp that finds this to be an extremely enjoyable (though not flawless) effort from Woods of Ypres. This is a band who's not content with sounding like anybody else, and that's exactly what they've accomplished with W4: The Green Album. While not without its faults, this is an innovative and often beautiful record that fans of truly unique metal music will want to investigate.

W4: The Green Album can be somewhat difficult to describe at times. There are plenty of nature-inspired black metal influences, but the majority of the album is progressive doom/sludge metal with clean vocals. The vocals actually end up being the most interesting thing about this album. David Gold has a rich, warm tone that is emphasized especially by frequent vocal harmonies. The man's simply an extraordinary clean vocalist, and isn't too shabby in the harsh vocal department either. The instrumental aspect of the music can come across as dull and monotonous at points, but there are some stellar compositions here - I'd actually consider "I Was Buried In Mount Pleasant Cemetery" to be a five-star masterpiece. The first half of the album is actually all pretty excellent, but W4: The Green Album does lose a bit of steam towards the end. Of course, this should come as no surprise when one considers the near-80 minute running time. There simply isn't enough variation or outstanding material to justify such a long duration, and listening to the entire album in one sitting can make for a daunting task. Cutting a half hour or so off of the total length would've increased my enjoyment significantly.

When all is said and done, W4: The Green Album is a really good effort from Woods of Ypres that's plagued by an intimidating playing time and occasionally uninteresting instrumental section. This probably won't be the best entrance into the band's discography, but it's a solid purchase for any fan of the band. Be warned in advance, though - this is not an easy album to get into, especially for those expecting a progressive black metal effort. 3 stars are warranted for this adventurous achievement.

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Posted Tuesday, April 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Woods IV: The Green Album' - Woods of Ypres (9/10)

Even months after his passing, the metal world still mourns the loss of Woods of Ypres founder and frontman David Gold. For a man whose work often revolved around death and sadness, it seems tragically ironic that he would be taken so relatively early in his life. I was not much of a fan of their sound the last time Woods toured through Vancouver, and- to my chagrin in retrospect- I did not see them live. Finally listening to Woods of Ypres' "Green Album", I'm now painfully aware of what the metal scene lost on Dec. 23, 2011. Distancing themselves from the black metal style they had developed on their first three records, "The Green Album" is an emotionally-heavy display of doom and grief, made even moreso by Gold's early passing.

I had the misconception that Woods of Ypres were some kind of Canadian Agalloch, and for the sake of their earlier material, that claim may have weight to it. In the case of "The Green Album" (and the posthumous "Grey Skies & Electric Light), Katatonia, Type O Negative, and My Dying Bride come to mind. The same grizzly atmosphere of their previous work is here, but it's conveyed through downtempo riffs and a much heavier presence of David's clean vocals than before. If anything, this evolution has made Woods of Ypre's music more depressive and bleak. Though David's deep-yet-melodic voice takes a couple of listens to grow, there's something about it that conveys incredible emotion. Comparisons can be drawn to a higher register Peter Steele (of Type O Negative), or lower register Jonas Renske (of Katatonia). Gold isn't a technically-proficient singer in any sense of the word, instead getting a warm, singer-songwriter approach across with his vocals. It's a little strange to have that style imposed overtop crushing doom riffs, but it works wonderfully.

The songwriting is memorable, but permanently clouded with melancholy and despair. The gloominess is taken to such a point where it may have even sounded cheesy, were it not for the unspoken seal of sincerity. "I Was Buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery" and "By The Time You Read This" are both examples of this, telling stories without a douse of light or humour to them. As the album progresses however, the music lightens up, if only a little. Gold himself admitted to the album getting more 'rocking' as it comes along. "Wet Leather" kicks up the tempo, and by "Natural Technologies", Woods of Ypres starts flirting with the realm of melodic death metal. Although the quality is relatively consistent throughout, "The Green Album"s 80 minute length could have used some culling, especially towards the latter half. The first side of the album is virtually perfect, but by the time "Mirror Reflection & The Hammer Reinvention" rolls around, there's a sense that Woods of Ypres could have conveyed the same amount of emotion without going so all-out. The second, 'rocking' half of the album isn't quite as impressive, but the closing track "Move On!" is as fitting an end to this album as I can imagine.

Woods of Ypres may not be around any longer, but I imagine that "The Green Album" will only gain reverence as the years go by. It may alienate the black metal purists, but the same atmosphere and longing is here, and as severe as ever. Tonight, I will drink to David Gold.

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Posted Tuesday, July 10, 2012 | Review Permalink

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