Review Summary: a more than welcome improvement on Loss in every single way.
Improving in all the right ways and taking no steps back can be a bit of a challenge. British black-metallers Wodensthrone, however, seem to have had little trouble in achieving that. Their first album was a fairly impressive display and understanding of atmospherics, an enjoyable, if contrived offering of synth-slathered atmospheric black metal. Though perhaps a little too reminiscent of Negură Bunget without a lot of the diversity involved, it was an enjoyable album for those who appreciated the atmosphere of Om
who just wanted something to put on to compliment the atmosphere around them. But that's just about all it was able to achieve. It's not necessarily a bad thing, either - the repetitive nature and predictability proved to really compliment certain moods for when you wanted an experience that was as dark as it was fairly inoffensive and complimentary to a particular niche. Though, many people (and understandably so) wanted more. Well, here it is. Curse
proves that Wodensthrone have a lot of worth beneath being heavily reliant on the atmospherics, the predictability fading away into an immensely enjoyable atmospheric black metal album. Curse
is tense, pummeling and beautiful in all the right ways to make a band like this shine, and where it still doesn't have the personality of similar bands, it shows a certain enjoyable tone played to nearly perfection.
One of the biggest and most evident changes is the fact that this is unmistakably a black metal album in both style and intensity. Curse
is a much heavier and thicker album, where Loss
almost felt like the black metal instrumentation was just there to accentuate the mood, Curse
is absolutely ferocious at times - and far more times than the debut. The drums are far less 'stock-standard' than you would have expected after hearing the debut, which is a more than welcome change - making the entire experience feel a lot less monotonous. Where the folk/symphonics have taken a bit of a step back, this makes the album age far better and makes the folk-inspired moments far more striking as opposed to slathering a chord wash over every tremolo-picked lead. The keyboards are still there but they are just at the point where they are far more complimentary as opposed to taking the helm, and this works for what Wodensthrone were obviously striving for. The occasional breaks with flutes and acoustic guitars ring through far more masterfully and enjoyably than anything on Loss
, finally flowing better and sounding far more natural than before. Where before it sounded almost as if it was a bunch of ideas put together that happened to sound pretty good, the cohesion and focus here has made everything glue together in a far more convincing way.
But the thing that really sets this apart from the previous album is the fact that it doesn't just sound like an exercise of one aesthetic over and over. Where the sounds on each track are similar, the stronger performances from absolutely everyone involved makes it feel a lot less like a bland repeat of the same song over and over. It is definitely true that a lot of tracks here follow a similar structure but Wodensthrone make it work. Tracks do occasionally wear before they're out, but for a sophomore album it's a very welcome and gratifying improvement for a band that is obviously starting to show the potential they began with. The vocals, which where a gripe before, are now one of the many strengths of the album. The new vocalist handles his role far better, far from the 'pretty much just there' performance before. Stylistically it's a very similar display of rasping/screaming, and though unusually low in the mix it feels far stronger and more multi-faced than the previous vocalist. Not to mention that there are moments here that are truly memorable, an area Loss
could have used improvement on - some tracks having very memorable and evocative melodies and riffs. "First Light" for instance is a fantastic track, proving to be the penultimate composition of the band so far, taking their composing style and coupling it with great atmospherics, beautiful melodies and perfect progressions that truly show what music like this is capable of.
is the album that just about all fans of Wodensthrone wanted them to release - a confident, marked improvement from Loss
that truly shows the band getting somewhere, improving in absolutely every aspect. There's no reason that any fans of Loss
wouldn't be ecstatic with this offering, and where it re-invents just about nothing, Curse
stands testament to the fact that a re-invention isn't always the best move. For those unconvinced, or those who thought Loss
was too repetitive and bland, at least streaming a track or two (and make it either "First Light" or "Battle Lines") would be well worth your time. As enjoyable as it is impressive, Curse
is the success many people didn't see coming - but said people are very glad it came.
Plus, nature is pretty cool. :]