One can almost be forgiven in thinking Wodensthrone’s style of pagan black metal is highly inventive and original. Almost. The band’s promotional material claims that Loss
is an escape from the ‘modern complexities and uninspired cookie-cutter “product” turned out by the current black metal scene’, but in actual fact the record is very much a product of the modern black metal scene, and not even a clone in the enjoyable sense of the word. While initial impressions of the album can be rather high (I will vouch for this), it simply takes until the end of the first song to realise that Wodensthrone are just another one-trick pony hiding an average album underneath pagan imagery and proclamations of distinctiveness.
Now that might have been a little harsh – there is certainly some fun to be found here. If the typical black metal sound (I may be snubbed for using the term, but here it is: ‘true’) does not appeal to you and you would rather synth and lame gimmicks as a side dish to your ‘blakk noiz’, then Wodensthrone have everything going for them. Still, considering my distaste for this new wave of bland and overproduced albums that are made for greater consumption (an ideal which goes against the very root of black metal itself), I cannot possibly bring myself to see what is good about Loss
. Admittedly, the concept is rather interesting – knowing that this particular black metal niche is awash with Slavic and Germanic pagan nonsense, it’s cool to see the Anglo-Saxons marching forth with their banners raised. The album does not so easily fall into the conceptual traps that have troubled other pagan-influenced bands; despite its many shortcomings, Loss
is not essentially cringeworthy (i.e. Wyrd
’s recent Kalivägi
). Still, the overly ‘epic’ attitude the band has is not entirely convincing, and when you take into account ‘modern’ black metal acts such as Panopticon
who have some real substance behind their album concepts, Loss
really struggles to hide its mediocrity.
Despite quite enjoying the first song, the second track dispels any notion of awe when it is very literally birthed by its preceding track – in other words, it really is hard to distinguish between the two tracks, and the same goes for almost every single song on the album. While it may be argued that this provides for a fluid album, one which progresses at a leisurely pace, I simply have to take a stand – listening to Loss
is essentially listening to one song, repeatedly. No track (except for perhaps ‘Black Moss’) can be differentiated by some interesting element, be it a musical hook or particular riff. Each track just blurs into one long and boring mess, combining the dullness of the recent Wolves in the Throne Room
release Black Cascade
with the sickeningly synth lathered Om
by Romanian heathens Negura Bunget
. The synth is really just irritating – instead of actually trying to create a worthwhile atmosphere during the so called heavier moments, Wodensthrone rely on a coating of synth which merely dulls the entire album. It removes all the intensity one could possibly derive from the already lifeless composition, and then does its best to estrange the acoustic interludes from any level of profundity.
When one actually can make out the guitar lines underneath the artificially imposed synth, the tedium really shines through. Perhaps not being able to write interesting guitar lines was the main reason behind the album’s reliance on the relentless synth – as mentioned before, only ‘Black Moss’ had any semblance of compositional endeavour that could be fathomed by however many times I tried to enjoy the album. The thing about Loss
is that it really goes out of its way to be an easy listen – while this may appeal to some, if you already listen to black metal and your expectations reflect any extent of black metal history, you will be disappointed with this record. If the monotony does not affect you (or if the case may be, you don’t actually find it monotonous) and the annoying barked vocals don’t trouble you, or you generally enjoy these kinds of watered down pagan drivel, I guess Wodensthrone should be at the top of your ‘To Buy’ list. Me? Well I’m just going to stick with my Drudkh
and let these unruly Brits try to appease somebody else.