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White Willow - Ex Tenebris CD (album) cover


White Willow


Symphonic Prog

3.26 | 97 ratings

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The Prognaut
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Decided to increase my progressive view across the Scandinavian scene, I took my chances with WHITE WILLOW just by hearing nothing but good recommendations and how impressive they work was. "Ex Tenebris" was actually my first step right into their world of wonderful music. I chose to start from here since the presence of Mattias OLSSON among the line-up rang a bell or well said, a drum to me. Up to the day I played this record for the first time, in the back of my mind there were only reminiscences from Swedish prog exposed brightly through the chords of the cornerstone bands we're all familiar with. I have to admit I didn't enjoy "Ex Tenebris" out of first listen because of my harshness towards expectation set upon Nordic prog rock. Now, I can barely brace myself from listening to at least one song of the record during an ordinary workday.

"Leaving The House Of Thanatos" is indeed a great opener. Softly carried away from the beginning, with this scent of peacefulness that speaks of a delicate touch printed out by WHITE WILLOW. The reward came to my ears straight as an arrow considering myself a lover of the mellotron and anything that has to do with fine displayed keyboards. Certainly, this record overruled my modest expectations. The air breathed in this song is simply devouring. It swings throughout several moods, but never forgetting the deep, surrounding moments. Definitely, one of my favorite WHITE WILLOW pieces.

In a more embracing way, "The Book Of Love" leads us inside the enticing aroma the record's got. The track is plagued of beautiful passages such as Audun KJUS' flute solo and the incredible duet performed by Jan Tarig RAHMAN and Sylvia ERICHSEN. Just the kind of song that would put you in the right kind of mood. Right after, "Soteriology" appears quietly almost in the same way of previous track, but now covered all up by the notes of a shy mellotron and a lovely burst of words coming out of Sylvia's soul. Rather than paused and slow, this songs resembles to me a beautiful lullaby for the unease heart.

"Helen And Simon Magus" has to be the track that particularly sets off from the rest in "Ex Tenebris". The elegance and the passion displayed by Sylvia ERICHSEN in here are even more refined and more sensitive. Her voice intertwines suitably with the musical elements just to release a captivating scent that'd drag you right into the mystery and the spookiness of the song which is quite disturbing in a emotional way. Lots of synthies and mellotron notes would surround the scene, letting no room to breathe but to stand still and live through the song. It also turns somehow hypnotic at the time Sylvia's voice begins to narrate the lyrics, in a very provocative way. A marvelous musical show that undoubtedly has the Scandinavian, deep, sensitive touch.

Musical guest Asa EKLUND appears as briefly as enchanting for over almost three minutes in "Thirteen Days" just to unroll the red carpet for upcoming scene in the album. "A Strange Procession." is to me, part one of the epical trip WHITE WILLOW dared to take on in here. The instrumental darkness floats irremediably strange within the ears just to clear up the air for final chapter... "A Dance Of Shadows" which is just the perfect ending to this lyrical journey. The poetry distilled here goes far beyond any possible imagination. The arrangements made to the song dignify completely the whole means of this production. The instrumentation is absolutely ravishing and cathartic, the mellotron keeps its providential signature and the musical spontaneity is unstoppable at this point. The magic goes on and on for almost fourteen minutes of gorgeousness. This track is a point of departure to tell apart the work of this Norwegian band from what was to come for them over the years they already left behind.

A very underrated album in its entire conception since to me, it's got the genius, the creativity and the innovative breaking point to keep eyes set on the Scandinavian prog scene that's everything but unknown to us all. The album is very refreshing to the soul, a true work of art. Humbly recommended by this helpless proghead.

The Prognaut | 4/5 |


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