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White Willow - Sacrament CD (album) cover


White Willow


Symphonic Prog

3.89 | 158 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

The first time I heard WW was with their debut album Igniis Faatis as they were part of the second wave of Scandinavian prog groups to invade the planet: along with Catweazle, Ravana, Galleon, Ageness, Twin Age, Simon Says and them. And I must say that from this wave, the only group I really appreciated, Ravana, is the only one that never carried out a second album. White Willow has been the most "prolific" (4 albums in 12 years) of that generation (and to my knowledge the only one regularly active). Of all those groups mentioned above, WW is probably the one that comes the closest to the AnglaDötenBerk trilogy. By the time of their third release in 2000, the group was then a sextet (the standard prog quartet plus Sylvia, the singer and Ketil on wind instruments) and their sound was still a very calm pastoral prog. The artwork is of a mystic nature (as the album title indicates) and evokes a Jewish sect of the Davidians (7-prong star instead of 6-prong star).

Musically speaking the album is well in the line of their previous two, but more like their debut Igniis Faatis rather than their particularly boring Ex-Tenebris, even if still occasionally they resort to the sleeping pills to compose certain tracks. Clearly it is the more nervous tracks like Crucible where the energy level indicates they are awakening from their lethargic states. Not that the quieter tracks like Last Rose (for ex) isn't well written or executed, but if it is reminiscent of Crimson's Talk To The Wind, it simply is not mesmerizing. Maybe part of the problem is that the main songwriter is a guitarist (nothing against Holm-Lupo as such, by all means) but good prog has always been easier to write on a keyboard rather than on a neck full of strings. Outside of the instrumental Crucible, the other highlight is the lengthy Gnostalgia, (a group composition as well) with some superb hypnotic moments, especially in the closing minutes. The closing The Reach is also relatively more interesting (for the same reasons), but it is funny to see that when the group does a collective job, they sound more like Anglagard than WW.

It is a bit funny (if not dismaying) to read the warning on the back cover about the extreme dynamic range of WW's music. Sacrament is a great improvement on Ex-Tenebris, and almost on par with their debut Igniis Faatis, if you love melancholic and bucolic ambiances that only our Nordic friends can make it, this album could easily for you.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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