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White Willow - Sacrament CD (album) cover


White Willow


Symphonic Prog

3.88 | 154 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Sacrament is the third album from White Willow and continues with many of the themes that we had come to recognize as being White Willow. This album has yet another change in the band line up and has a more even mix of Folk with Symphonic Prog.

The biggest difference I notice here is that the Folk influence is vastly reduced to the start of two songs, the opener Anamnesis and the instrumental of the album, The Crucible. As a result I would say that this album is almost entirely Symphonic in its nature, and to be honest I think it suit's the band better. The bass on Sacrament has also become more prominent than on the two previous album, Ignis Fatuus and Ex Tenebris, as well as the guitars becoming slightly heavier in parts and I feel this is another good change for the band, partly as its a big help in preventing them from just repeating what they have already done.

This album does encapsulate the best elements from the first two albums, it has the strength in the composition and the mixing and build up of instrumentation that made Ignis Fatuus so strong, and added that to the more striped down element of Ex Tenebris. I know that sounds rather contradictory but it results in an album where the songs change from one to the other, either through slow build up or sudden change, giving it a real dynamic. The other good thing is that, with the exception of The Last Rose of Summer (the only song in the White Willow discography that mastermind Jacob C. Holm-Lupo takes lead vocals) the short songs have been done away with nearly entirely. These shorter songs tended to be the weak tracks on previous White Willow albums, especially the sub 3 minute ones on Ignis Fatuus, but without them it allows the flow of the album to build.

In my opinion there isn't actually a weak track here on Sacrament, in the sense that one is a bad song. The previously mentioned The Last Rose of Summer, is the only track that doesn't hold up compared to the rest of the album though. Its basically an acoustic ballad and, though its got some nice guitar work and its interesting to here the mix of Holm-Lupo's and Sylvia Erichsen's voices, it's a bit out of place, it probably would have worked better if it was placed before The Crucible as it would work as a lead in to this instrumental.

Anamnesis is the track that combines the merits of the first two albums best. For the first 4-5 minutes of the song its plays along in a similar style to the previous album, namely its very soft with only a couple instruments playing and Erichsen singing in a very soft voice. However this all changes when the whole band jumps into the fray with something much more powerful and Erichsen's vocal style abruptly changes to something more harsh and very different to what she's just being doing, it's the sheer contrast that really jumps at you.

The crucible follows similar lines musically, though without such a sharp contrast as Anamnesis as the style of the song is more lush than striped down. Gnostalgia is a beautiful and haunting song dominated by the acoustic guitar work of Holm-Lupo and the flute work of Ketil Vestrum Einarsen. This song quite clearly shows the roots of the band in making long, flowing, soft and above all, hauntingly beautiful music that they excel at, I would go as far to say that Gnostalgia is probably the bands strongest song in this vain, at least as good as Cryptomenysis, John Dee's Lament and . A Dance Of Shadows, though for the life of me I havn't a clue why they spelt it with a G. The final song to the album, The Reach, begins by successfully creeping out the listener thanks to Sylvia Erichsen's vocals, something she does very well at intermittent points throughout the song. The whole song gives of a dark, brooding atmosphere led by a driving, and unusually prominent, bass line from Johannes Sæbøe. This is the strongest, and as a result my personal favourite, composition here as each instrument gets to take its turn in the spotlight at some point without ever feeling contrived or forced, that includes the vocals, a must listen for fans of Symphonic prog.

The biggest problem that I have with this album is that it feels just too short to me, though its not much shorter, if at all, than the previous album and the following two. It may be that because there are only 6 songs it just seems that it goes fast. I guess it's a strength when a song is so captivating that 10 minutes feels like 6, and this happens on all three 10 minute songs here (Anamnesis, Gnostalgia and The Reach), but I do wish they had recorded another song for this album. Sacrament is a fantastic album that I give 4.5 stars to, but wont round up to 5 because its not a masterpiece due to the song The Last Rose of Summer and the fact that it feels too short. I highly recommend that you get it anyway.

sleeper | 4/5 |


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