Review Summary: Powerful and engaging, the only complaint to be had with The Woods is that you'll probably want more of the greatness it has to offer.4 of 4 thought this review was well writtenThe Woods
begins with a curiously titled “Intro (Anxiety)”. It's curious because, despite its name, “Anxiety” is about as calming as tracks come. But maybe that's a misinterpretation of the meaning. Maybe the intro itself isn't meant to be the anxious track – maybe it's meant to be an intro to the anxiety. The latter interpretation would definitely seem like a more fitting representation, considering that The Woods
is built in a way that takes the listener from an initial state of celestial peace to a final point of dark, uneasy brooding. The album is without a doubt a journey, and iNTRiKeT has very clearly built it this way on purpose.
The album starts in a peaceful state, with the proper opening track “As I Am” built initially around a charming acoustic guitar piece laid over some lightly padded percussion that feels like the perfect soundtrack to a daydream. But the key to its beauty lies in the subtleties. The airy spaciousness of the omnipresent, supporting synth-lines allows for the constant builds and variations to take the listener by surprise, until suddenly being hit with the transition into a moodier section that ties the overall feeling of the track down and brings the listener at least somewhat back to earth. It's still the same peaceful daydream accompaniment, but now it seems to be leading the way. There's a much more obvious driving force behind everything, which is how most of The Woods
There's an incredible over-arching atmosphere that contains a shockingly strong ability to take the listener into the album's unique world. It's made especially powerful by the variation in moods which really turns the album into a journey, from the celestial beginnings to the dark, haunting finish. The middle interlude is really the pivotal point here, after which the dreamy synths are typically dropped for more dissonant, brooding soundscapes. The light percussion gives way to a rhythmic style that, at some points, is just plain devastating.
There's just something about that combination of dense, dark atmosphere piled on top of hard-hitting percussion that creates a style that's almost unparalleled in how impacting it can be. It's what makes dark dubstep such a strong meditative sound, and the influence of that style is greatly apparent in the latter half of The Woods
. “Giant Sun”'s tribal percussion is reminiscent of a style that only Mala or Skream on his finest day are capable of, but layered underneath the almost apocalyptic feeling of the swelling, weighty basslines and intense overall atmosphere, the track is a paradigm for everything that dark dubstep should be aiming for. It starts out dark and it ends up just plain brutal.
The remainder of the album remains relatively within the same mood, which is fortunate because the cohesiveness of the album really makes it feel like there's no turning back at this point. While “Enough” remains dark, it still manages to lighten the pace up a bit through the use of an infectiously catchy melody and stuttering percussion (which maintains iNTRiKeT's consistent ability to find percussion that's not only perfectly fitting for the track, but also varied and unique). There are well-executed, captivating builds. There are dense moods that can vary from melancholic to absolutely gutting. There's enough weight here to compete with even the darkest and heaviest of iNTRiKeT's contemporaries.
There's a slight feeling that the dark, latter half outshines the initial lighter half, but it's reasonably forgivable because of how well the album works as a whole. The only substantial beef to be had here is that with an intro and outro track combining into ten of the album's fifty-five minutes, there's really not enough room for a five minute interlude or some of the lengthier individual track outros that are found on here. That isn't to say that any of those individual pieces are throw-aways, because the intro is a strong lead-in, the interlude is touching, and the outro is actually one of the strongest tracks here. But the end of “As I Am” is a completely unnecessary three minutes, “Raindrops” ends with a minute of, well, raindrops, only to lead into the interlude. It's the cumulative effect that becomes the real problem. There's not enough content between the intro and the interlude, and the outro comes too early to wind the album down.
Despite some slight spacing and pacing issues, the pure content on here is absolutely stunning, especially for a first album. The densely layered soundscapes on here rival Clubroot's impressive III – MXII
, and the rugged bass weight is reminiscent of Digital Mystikz and their followers at their most aggressive. The Woods
sounds like the album of a producer who has spent plenty of time listening to the most impressive acts in today's electronic world, and has channeled their abilities well. What it doesn't sound like is a debut album, which showcases not only how impressive the work on here is, but how great it will be to see what the producer has in store for the future.