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White Willow - Sacrament CD (album) cover


White Willow


Symphonic Prog

3.89 | 158 ratings

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4 stars Sacrament is the third installment of Jacob Holm-Lupo's White Willow project, a constantly evolving Nordic extravaganza, which started out as highly pastoral (the bucolic Ignis Fatuus) and slowly morphing into some more familiar Scandinavian proglands (somber moods, churning guitars, ravaging Rickenbacker bass, fleeting flutes, chilled cellos and heavenly vocals). The back cover of the CD issues the following warning: "the extreme dynamic range of White Willow's music will test the limits of your sound system. Please listen with extreme caution". Err, Okay! On the icebreaker "Anamnesis", Sylvia Erichsen supplies some almost angelic Gothic voices until she unleashes some seriously deranged hysterics that will please the alternative crowd to no end, loaded with searing lead electric guitars slashes. "Paper Moon" is introduced by some sprightly synthesizer patterns, held together by rumbling bass supported by solid drumming, and elevating Sylvia's childlike vocals to dreamy levels. Holm-Lupo spices the proceedings with a jagged guitar excursion, keeping the mood ominous yet fragile. This is really interesting stuff and highly enjoyable. The instrumental "The Crucible" kicks off in medieval light, the gently strumming troubadour prancing with the flautist, bowing to the accordion with the subtle choir mellotron (and I am a huge sucker for that sound) taking slowly over as the simple beat keeps time. Suddenly, the rhythm section kicks this mother into overdrive, with the flute going Mel Collins-crazy, the bass popping relentlessly and the cymbals flaying mercilessly. A sibilant synth solo zips along with total abandon, handing the torch over to a blistering guitar lead that shears the ivy right off the castle walls. Dungeon music at its finest, I say. "The Last Rose of Summer" is all Holm-Lupo on acoustic guitar and sharing vocals with Sylvia, covering nostalgia drenched themes of imminent winter gloom. "Gnostalgia" has some spirited playing by all, with Ketil Einarsen's flute delivering the main theme in gentle bereavement, dueling with a mournful oboe espousing its own pain but when the choir mellotron elevates Sylvia's sad lament, this piece veers straight into serious Prog Heaven. (Flute and choir is just a monstrous combo). " The Reach" is the final nail in the coffin and the tour de force here as Sylvia intones the kindergarten classic "Ring around the Rosies", only ushering in the swerving Johannes Saeboe bass propelled melody, pushed by more flute and lead guitar with Aage Schou shining on the drum kit. The music is severely unsettling , like a good horror movie where the suspense is subtle (as opposed to gory)and sealed by a savage Holm-Lupo six string blowout, some tremulous synths and the wildest vocals anywhere. While still not in the same province as their stunning debut, one cannot claim that this Norwegian troupe is not discovering new territories and stretching the frontiers of progressive rock. 4 frigid fjords.
tszirmay | 4/5 |


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