Woods Of Ypres have endured in the predominantly uncharted territory of underground black and doom metal since 2002. A deal with Earache Records at the end of last year meant the Ontario quartet no longer have to worry about their previous distribution problems. It starts here – with a re-issue of Woods 4: The Green Album, which was only available via digital download before this edition.
Shards Of Love is the beautiful, impacting opener that progresses from a guitar-picked ballad to a slow-paced yet thunderous entity of dispirited waning. Along similar lines to this, is the short acoustic track You Are Here With Me (In This Sequence Of Dreams). Although weighing under two-minutes in length, it shows a very capable folk side to Woods Of Ypres.
If you’re in the mood for something heavier, Natural Technologies is the most blackened song on the album, and there’s the brash riffing of Suicide Cargoload (Drag That Weight) to extinguish anyone’s burning desire for a song with a brazened sludgy-edge.
Gold has fused what can probably be described as ‘depressive’ rock into the record too, with dark lyrical content spewing from this love-fatigued soul like he drank ipecac in a confession box. But as appealing as this may seem, Gold fails to utilise his gloomy content. Overly-simplistic songwriting gives many of the songs less impact when it comes down to inducing that burdening air of suffocating melancholy that Woods Of Ypres are renowned for.
By The Time You Read This (I Will Already Be Dead) is a main culprit, but Wet Leather is by far the most dubious, with a cringe-worthy chorus clumsily tarnishing any note of musical accolade on the track (‘Life is just pain and piss, there’s nothing that I will miss’).
Musically, Gold is moving away from most of his black metal roots with Woods Of Ypres and probably allowing them to be channelled into his two-songs-a-year project – the Northern Ontario Black Metal Preservation Society. And there isn’t anything wrong with that, especially seems as WoY play doom almost as well as any black metal section they’ve done in the past. Even holding them in high regard, ticking the box for ballsy ambition and ignoring some of the lyrical hiccups, I’ve heard better from them. No doubt they’ll come back twice as strong with Woods 5.