Review Summary: David Gold may have passed, but his swan song will always live on in a phenomenal legacy, and a final, timeless masterpiece.
2012 has been an impressive year for music, particularly for metal and rock. Everything from good to great comeback albums, to ultimate masterpieces. With some of the musical choices made on this album, especially the greater emphasis on clean vocals, some may think Woods now sounds too much like HIM, or it's just a ripoff crossbreed between My Dying Bride and Type O Negative. Those mindless sayings can be put to rest, for this album simply has everything to love: Incredible instrumentals, fantastic vocals, incredible amounts of emotion, poetic lyrics, and all-around phenomenal musicianship. It also creates a truly unique sound that’s very reminiscent of the bands mentioned above, but separates itself by combining many different musical elements in a very tasteful way that’s simply incomparable. Get ready for one of the best, most complete musical experiences ever.
As said in the opening paragraph, some may want to compare this band to HIM, or refer to Woods as a Type O Negative and My Dying Bride ripoff. This album does have many qualities that are similar to the above-mentioned bands, but the mixing of powerful grooves, riffs, and beautiful melodies completely sets this band apart from other. Everything on here: The guitars, bass, drumming, vocals, and keyboard/symphonic elements are used to great affect. The mixing between the guitars isn’t the most complex you’ll hear, but they come together perfectly to create the doomy vibe that the album is built on. Not only that, but the individual performances, especially the solos, are fantastic. The drumming proves to be just as important, if not, even more important than any other musical element. The drum performance not only adds greatly to the grooves created that drive the album, but thicken the texture of the sound to make what was already a powerful music experience just that much more intense. The heavier emphasis on clean, lush, baritone-bass vocals also add heavily to the experience, giving the album the “Type O Negative-ish” feeling of doom and despair. The keyboard and symphonic elements may only seem like a background music element at first, but actually complete the now-perfected “Woods” sound on this album. If anything, the only element that can be considered even remotely background is the bass. Even then, the bass guitar performance on this album is still great, and provides the root of the basic foundation for the sound. Overall, the music performances from David Gold and Joel Violette are phenomenal, and give the album a quality that sets it in world of its own.
Another massive strength on this album is the deep, poetic lyrics and the numerous themes that revolve around them. They may seem simple and almost contradict each other at first, but come together to provide a set of messages and themes woven together beautifullyl. Some songs on here, namely Silver, seem to curse life, while others make living a vital necessity. This may seem like a contradiction, but, instead, appears more like a use of basic rhetoric: Point out the bad in something, but provide more evidence as to why that thing is a necessity, establishing your credibility on the subject, and showing the stance on the subject that you’ve taken. To be exact, it shows David’s credibility on the subject of life, and his stance on it. He seems to be telling people that, while life can be bad, and downright cruel, it is still beautiful, and we must live it to the fullest extent that we can, for it is better than death. He also seemed to almost know that he was going to die, and therefore said goodbye to all of his fans, friends and family. In Alternate Ending, it seemed like he could see himself in dream-like state, closing in on death: “Back On the highway, under the moon, my final moments, still wondering about you...” Then, as all Woods fans know by now, David Gold was killed in a car crash on December 22, 2011. It almost seems like David Gold is telling us not to mourn him for too long, for to “mourn the end is to say goodbye.” It appears that David Gold knew he was going to die. Whether simple or complex, straight forward or contradictory, each lyric has a beautiful meaning underneath, and all will eventually come together into one or multiple messages that are to be discovered and interpreted by the listener.
A beautiful, complex work like this is not easy to jump right into. I understand that everybody’s opinions differ, but this is something you must give a chance. Whether it opens your eyes to a cruel society, gives you a strong reason to embrace life, or simply provides an enjoyable listening experience, this album is an extremely special experience. Some may still want to make unnecessary comparisons, or simply avoid it due to the nature of its content, but it has already affected many of its listeners. As a beautiful celebration of life through the use of poetic lyrics and fantastic musicianship, it is simply the best of the best of the best. To try and find a musical experience that can compare to this may be darn-near impossible, for we now have one of the greatest albums ever crafted that will surely break the top ten of the year or even the decade (so far) for lovers of metal or great music in general.