Woods of Desolation
Torn Beyond Reason


4.0
excellent

Review

by Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration USER (56 Reviews)
March 7th, 2011 | 245 replies | 21,417 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: It may be repetitive, it may be gimmicky, and it may even be cheesy at points, but Woods of Desolation's latest proves that these oft-maligned traits that are so common to this style of black metal can make for some ridiculously enjoyable music.

If you are a fan of atmospheric black metal, Torn Beyond Reason will be like manna from heaven to your ears (if you do not, for the most part, enjoy the scene already, nothing here will change your opinions). While this Australian duo are not anywhere near being revolutionary, their success lies in their perfection of formula. They may be similar in many ways to acts such as Fen, but where they differ from comparatively mediocre bands like the aforementioned Fen is in their ability to prevent their music from dragging. Torn Beyond Reason, instead of opting for ridiculously long songs full of pseudo-folksy atmospheric bullcrap, chooses to go the way of creating relatively short songs full of pseudo-folksy atmospheric bullshit. The album's six tracks play over a refreshingly short duration of less than 38 minutes (a far cry from the hour-plus runtime that is characteristic of this genre's output), and none of the tracks ever extend over ten minutes in length (the album's longest, The Inevitable End, is just over nine minutes). The problem with aesthetically similar artists like Fen or Skagos lies in their propensity for overstaying their welcome both in song and album duration, and thankfully, Woods of Desolation never falls into this trap.

The sound displayed on Torn Beyond Reason is, as stated before, nothing new. But its strength is in how well it is pulled off. There are acoustic passages, there are cleans, and there are buildups, all of which are unavoidably cheesy at points. But just like the album and track durations these much-maligned genre characteristics are made tolerable (and even enjoyable) by the restraint Woods of Desolation exhibit in their use. The cleans on tracks such as Darker Days and Somehow... are not useless, painful, and almost laughable like they have a tendency to be on similar records. They are pushed into the back of the mix (depriving them of a potentially dangerous position as the music's focal point) and are used with admirable taste and caution, even becoming catchy (in a good way) in the process, and it is a very similar story for the group's tasteful use of keyboards and ambient backdrops. The band also opts for "epic" major-key passages eerily reminiscent of post-rock acts such as Mono or Explosions In the Sky (there is a moment in album closer/highlight Somehow... that sounds almost exactly like a black metal version of EITS's The Birth and Death of the Day), and like everything else about the album they resist the temptation to overstay their welcome and become a gimmick in the process. In fact, their use in The Inevitable End and the aforementioned Somehow... make for the album's most heartrendingly beautiful moments.

While Woods of Desolation are neither genre-defying revolutionaries nor are they technical wizards, there is something about the simplicity of Torn Beyond Reason that makes it 2011's first truly awesome atmospheric black metal record. It could be the strength of the songwriting, it could be the stunningly beautiful tremolo-picked passages, it could be the simultaneous senses of desolation and hope that the band's music conveys, it could be the top-notch shrieks of vocalist Sorrow... It would be useless to list all of this album's strengths. However, the one overarching theme that makes Torn Beyond Reason transcend the realms of above average Cascadian-style black metal into the realms of exceptional music is in its acceptance of what is really is. Woods of Desolation know exactly what they are and hold none of the ill-conceived delusions of grandeur that have inflicted crippling damage in the armor of similar bands, and it is this sense of reality that makes this album such a strong one. The band never tries to be anything that they are not, and it is because of this admirable trait that they have managed to create what is, as of now, 2011's strongest atmospheric black metal effort.

Album Highlights
An Unbroken Moment
Somehow...




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user ratings (141)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
wyankeif1337
March 7th 2011


6739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

i am proud of this review, and i feel that it is one of my stronger efforts in recent memory. as such it would be wonderful if, when you bash me, you could do it in a nice and constructive manner so that...
A: i could make necessary improvements to the review
B: my fragile ego could remain unharmed

Tyrael
March 7th 2011


20874 Comments


'... or you have an overwhelming desire to pull a Varg on the men behind Fen'
lol'd
Very nice review. Pos.

Digging: Darkspace - Dark Space III I

Hep Kat
March 7th 2011


15351 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i couldn't agree more with the summary

wyankeif1337
March 7th 2011


6739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

like i said in the conclusion, the album's strength is that it doesn't try to be anything it's not, unlike some other bands *cough*fen*cough*

Hawks
March 7th 2011


35824 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Good review man. I might be one of the few who likes this more than their first album.

Digging: Engraved - Before The Tales

wyankeif1337
March 7th 2011


6739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

hehe, Hawks Beyond Reason. i chuckled


AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
March 7th 2011


16137 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Wouldn't call this Cascadian or post-black metal. And it's certainly not better than the debut.

SCREAM!
March 7th 2011


10076 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

angel bringing the truth itt

wyankeif1337
March 7th 2011


6739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

it's probably not cascadian but i'm feeling some major post-rock influence here.

Relinquished
March 7th 2011


25004 Comments


post-rock doesn't make it cascadian

wyankeif1337
March 7th 2011


6739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

it was a response to angel's comment saying that he's probably right about it not being cascadian but that i think that it is, at least to some extent, post-black metal. sorry, i should've been clearer.

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
March 7th 2011


16137 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

What you call post-rock influence, I call the same mediocre riff being dragged on for several minutes with the false notion that lush production will carry it.

wyankeif1337
March 7th 2011


6739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

well, i obviously don't agree, but opinions are opinions.

Ovrot
March 7th 2011


10494 Comments


but onions are a vegtable

Tyrael
March 7th 2011


20874 Comments


Lol

wyankeif1337
March 7th 2011


6739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

nice avatar

alachlahol
March 7th 2011


7489 Comments


1. this is not cascadian black metal
2. there is no such thing as post-black metal

wyankeif1337
March 7th 2011


6739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

1. i know, i'll do a few edits at some point today
2. i'm not getting into this right now

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
March 7th 2011


16387 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The first paragraph is rather wandering, you seem to want to say something but you go about doing it in ways that make no sense in connection to the album itself (the whole blurb about cascadian/post-bm is dumb) and also your points about things "that some love to hate about the scene" points out characteristics that span multiple sub-genres, some of which aren't even found on this record.

And to be honest this sounds nothing at all like Fen or An Autumn For Crippled Children.

Digging: Spectral Lore - III

wyankeif1337
March 7th 2011


6739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

do you have any tips on how i could make it better?



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