I’ve done quite a few reviews over the last two years but none have been under the circumstances surrounding Woods of Ypres latest, Woods V Grey Skies and Electric Light. I believe this will be the first postmortem review I’ve done for an album and it’s strange. But I’m getting ahead of myself so let me back up and start from the beginning. If you’re not aware of Woods of Ypres they are a Canadian band that was labeled as blackened doom/death at one point. Things were hitting a peak last year after the band signed with Earache Records and re released their Woods 4 album to great reviews. Anticipation was high for the 5th volume Woods V Grey Skies and Electric Light. But then tragedy struck on December 23rd, 2011 when news hit that main man and core founder,David Gold, was suddenly killed in an automobile accident. It was a sudden and sad turn of events especially on a personal level for myself. So we fast forward to now a mere three days before the official release of Woods V and I’m struggling to talk about this album.
If David Gold had not passed away it probably wouldn’t have been me that reviewed this but Scott since he was more knowledgeable on the band then myself. And in fact he was going to but then it was passed to me. You’ll have to ask him his reasons but I can tell you that after listening to Woods V I can see why it would be hard to do a review. On one hand I could sit and just talk about the album and my feelings on it like any other album but after listening to it more then once with the knowledge of David’s passing there is a whole different vibe. This is because Woods V is obsessed with death and the multiple feelings about it much like previous releases but more so here. There are songs like ‘Finality’ or ‘Alternate ending’ that are as if David knew he was going to die and left a note to a loved one in song format. And it’s a very powerful and emotional listen, actually heartbreaking would be the best word. Both of those songs are gorgeous to begin with but you add this element of mourning and the songs take a whole new life of their own.
As I try to ground myself into a more proper review it is to be noted that Woods of Ypres over time had taken a blackened style of music and transformed it into more of a depressive or dark metal/rock style. Much of Woods V is highlighted by David’s baritone vocals reminiscent of the late Peter Steele, in fact the opening song ‘Career Suicide Is Not Real Suicide’ is something a later years Type O Negative would have written. The idea of this also adds to the weird ironic state of listening to this album seeing as Peter Steele was also obsessed with death and depression and left this earth early too. But regardless Woods V, outside of the extraordinary circumstances, can best be described as an audio painting full of styles and colors. Pianos, flutes, and violins are prominent and haunting in the midst of of guitars and drums. Every song has it’s own form of beauty and really highlight the genius that was David Gold. The lyrics themselves also paint a picture of a mind that hated humanity but loved life and was sure there is no God but unsure if there is an after life. So many juxtapositions makes for engaging listens. If you don’t usually pay much attention to lyrics it’s unavoidable with this album and a necessity that you do so.
I could easily say that Woods V is my favorite album to date but with the passing of David this album is now the band’s masterpiece. I would have preferred the former because this is it. There will be no way to ever top this album as there will be no more. I highly recommend this album for it’s dense musicality, lyrics, and emotions. I will now leave you with this song that had the most profound effect on me through out Woods V.
R.I.P. David. Even though your lyrics revisited the notion that we are forgotten when we die you won’t be and I hope there is an afterlife where you’re at and you have found peace.