Woods of Desolation
As the Stars


4.0
excellent

Review

by Kyle Ward STAFF
January 31st, 2014 | 160 replies


Release Date: 02/14/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A paradigm shift

However you see this rising beast that is post-black metal, one can’t deny the fact that black metal has found some new life within its confines. It’s a bastard child of hopefulness and despair, an offspring of a genre that itself was a ghastly aberration of its own stylistic parents. It’s easy to hate, but is nonetheless gaining traction due to the fact that it is also easy to love. It’s a continuation of black metal’s origins, a genre that is alive because it chose to buck the trend, and now that cycle is beginning anew. Post-black metal is a response to what some see as genre stagnation and unwillingness to disassociate itself from certain paradigms; certain traditions of a genre that once prided itself on not being traditional. Few bands, however, straddle that gap, the one between accepted black metal aesthetics and this new departure into more optimistic moods and hopeful soundscapes.

Australia’s Woods of Desolation have shown an evolution from one side of the fence to another, but the band has never fully committed to solely one style. The tremolo-laden leads do often crest in a whirring state of bliss, bringing forth an optimism that counteracts the crushing production and buzzing rhythms in a way that brings the old and the new tightly together. The mix is perfectly awful; a mash of drums, guitars, bass and vocals to form a swirling cacophony of sound so illegible and so imperfect that is produces exactly the opposite. Each riff has an attitude about it that most post-black metal records can’t possibly replicate, but they also create an airy and bright atmosphere that rises above the fuzz lying beneath it. As The Stars succeeds because it knows that it cannot function without embracing both sides of its personality. Without the production and the mix, the album will be sonically sterile, and yet without the unorthodox mood variances the atmosphere would be lifeless. Smartly, Woods of Desolation are conscious enough to realize this, and instead hold each element tightly together in their songwriting to conjure an extremely unique vibe that makes the record come alive.

The buried vocals feel painful in their anguished cries, while the uplifting riffs in tracks like “Withering Field” or "This Autumn Light" reveal a blissful side to the suffering. It’s all about the clashing of moods, the dual presence of crushing depression and sincere hopefulness that gives As The Stars a third dimension that most traditional and post-black metal records alike cannot begin to conceive due to their blindness of the other side. Still, the album does seem to concentrate so hard on this melding of the two styles that it forgets to introduce changes in tempo, as the record seems to roll along at the same pace for its entirety save a small break in the final track “Ad Infinitum”. The removal of any sense of movement severely hinders the overall effectiveness of this style, simply because it all sounds so similar. This carries over from Torn Beyond Reason, though, which was similarly hindered by a soundscape that, while undoubtedly enjoyable, was far too stagnant throughout its run. In the grand scheme of As The Stars, though, Woods of Desolation have penned a special piece. It is abrasive and raw but also quite delicate – two attributes that seem opposing yet live together in harmony here. As The Stars is an album for the wide black metal audience, because it shows how bands don’t always have to choose a side and then put up blinders to the world around them. Things can be integrated, but only insofar as the breadth of a band’s musical vision and their talent in transcribing that vision into their songwriting. Woods of Desolation are more than adept at both.




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user ratings (148)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Athom
Staff Reviewer
January 31st 2014


17231 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

cool. great write up.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
January 31st 2014


16487 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Thanks Adam. Sorry if you were planning on reviewing this too, I just felt inspired today.

Motiv3
January 31st 2014


8945 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

got this album but yet to listen. Will do at some point.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
January 31st 2014


20162 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

great album and review. Are their other albums worth checking out?

Digging: Johann Sebastian Bach - Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major, BWV 1050

Athom
Staff Reviewer
January 31st 2014


17231 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

I actually just submitted my review of this about 30 minutes ago over at New Noise haha. I figured you'd do it here and your opinion on black metal holds more weight than mine on sput. We're actually on the same page on this in a lot of aspects.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
January 31st 2014


16487 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Are their other albums worth checking out?


Yes their other two records are just as good/better than this one.

@Adam - Gonna go read your review for it on New Noise. EDIT - can't see it yet

Athom
Staff Reviewer
January 31st 2014


17231 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

The site editor said it should be up later today. I'll shoutbox you the link when i get it.

Curse.
Contributing Reviewer
January 31st 2014


8023 Comments


Great review as always Kyle

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
January 31st 2014


20162 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yes their other two records are just as good/better than this one.


Sweet, glad to hear it! I'll make checking them out a priority then


SeaAnemone
January 31st 2014


20970 Comments


just heard this this afternoon - decent enough stuff but nothing that strikes me nearly as much as deafheaven

Digging: Viet Cong - Viet Cong

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
January 31st 2014


10383 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I hear Sunbather is Crysis' favorite black metal release

Digging: Thou - Heathen

AdolfChrist
January 31st 2014


1822 Comments


this more straightforward, catchy sound benefits them. i thought their other two were pretty mediocre.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
January 31st 2014


16487 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I hear Sunbather is Crysis' favorite black metal release


best bm eva

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
January 31st 2014


19069 Comments


yeah i remember him talking about how the pecan tree made him cry cause it reminded him of those times he used to go out with his grandpa and listen to stories about the war under the big tree in his backyard and then he got addicted to dope and his grandpa died without him saying goodbye

neck but yeah p good album

Digging: Stereolab - Dots and Loops

climactic
January 31st 2014


19985 Comments


nice rev, great album. i was almost surprised at how uplifting some of the parts were. towards the depths is still my fav

Digging: Downfall of Gaia - Aeon Unveils the Thrones of Decay

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
January 31st 2014


7127 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This would fare better without that high end mix.



On the other hand, gotta love that 'recently reviewed' list. m/

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
January 31st 2014


16487 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

yeah i remember him talking about how the pecan tree made him cry cause it reminded him of those times he used to go out with his grandpa and listen to stories about the war under the big tree in his backyard and then he got addicted to dope and his grandpa died without him saying goodbye


liek dis if u cri errytime

Athom
Staff Reviewer
January 31st 2014


17231 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

this thread has even me cracking up

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
January 31st 2014


7025 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This comment by Eli sums up my reaction to this record fairly well: "It actually does black metal and post-rock better than Sunbather, without the stuff that made that album really special"

SeaAnemone
January 31st 2014


20970 Comments


This comment by Eli sums up my reaction to this record fairly well: "It actually does black metal and post-rock better than Sunbather, without the stuff that made that album really special"


sounds about right
unfortunately the former isn't all that interesting, I don't think



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