I love it when I come across an album or a band that takes an unique approach to crafting music. I had seen the name Woods of Ypres floating around over the past month and then started receiving e-mails that they had signed to Earache Records with a plan to re release the past catalog. Woods IV then is obviously my first exposure to what this band from Ontario,Canada has to offer. I see that they’re labeled as blackened doom and I imagine that might have been true in the early recordings but for this release it appears to be more doom then any blackened elements.
What initially struck me about this album is the pacing and the songwriting. Vocalist David Gold has a deep almost baritone clean vocal style through much of the album occasionally delving into roars depending on the lyrics at hand.Most of the songs are a slower tempo as you would expect doom to be but the lyrical content is what is the standout here. Some tracks the lyrics appear to have been improvised as in the opener, ‘Shards of Love’ and not actually written down. Other lyrics make you think this album is a concept album as the songs flow from a breakup to possibly suicide to a funeral. ‘I was buried in Mount Pleasants Cemetary’ is an especially odd song. Check out these lyrics and see if it makes sense to you.
First I paid my respects to Glenn Gould
Then I visited the grave of Alexander Muir
Next to Eaton’s tomb, I hung my head and cried
Looking for Joseph Mulgrew, I gave up and died
Who are these people he’s referring to? Are they names on a headstone or are they loved ones in real life? Just the placement of it I found odd. But much of the lyrical content is like this.
Now the second half of the song is absolutely gorgeous. Pianos and woodwind instruments play an important role in these songs as they set a dark mood that I haven’t heard this successful in a awhile. I think the album could have been a bit shorter in terms of amount of songs as it does seem to drag on a bit the further you get. But if you play it in chunks it’s great. Production wise its stellar.Every aspect of the album is heard clearly in the mix. If you’re a fan of bands like Agalloch you should really pick this up. It’s atmospheric and dark and if you’re into any sort of progression or change in your music diet then Woods of Ypres – Woods IV is for you. Here is the video for I was Buried to get an idea of what I’m blathering about.
My score 7 sins out of 10