I'll openly admit it. Black metal is a genre I am not well versed in. As with much of metal's extreme side, I have not really paid much attention to either black metal. Aside from the likes of My Dying Bride, same goes for doom metal really. So why would I want to check out Woods of Ypres, a melodic black and doom metal band, you ask? Well, I haven't really got a good reason, but it's a reason none the less. Woods of Ypres hails from my hometown, and since I'm not aware of virtually anybody from where I used to live, this band a source of pride, or something silly like that. Anyways, the band's first demo, astronomically titled Against the Seasons: Cold Winter Songs From the Dead Summer Heat, turned out to be a very worthy investment, so I decided to check out their debut album, Pursuit of the Sun & Allure of the Earth. Once again, I was madly impressed with what I heard. I enjoyed it probably even more so than the demo.
Like their demo, Woods of Ypres' debut album is a very sombre effort. The band has been compared with Agalloch in the past, and this comparison is quite fitting, I must say. The atmospheric doom metal makes up a large portion of the band's music. Whereas Against the Seasons was full on black metal, Pursuit of the Sun & Allure of the Earth puts a lot more emphasis on slow acoustics and clean vocals than the traditional black metal sound. But luckily for listeners, this change in musical direction does not hurt the band 's efforts. Often times, the tempo of the relatively calm music mixed with the soothing, likeable clean vocals of David Gold (who also took over vocals and guitars in the recording of the album), produces a depressing, yet at the same time, uplifting sound which is a treat to listen to. But that isn't to say that the entirety of Pursuit of the Sun is an acoustic album. The nine minute epic, Dragged Across a Forest Floor, spends plenty of runtime making use of the band's traditional sound, harsh vocals, distorted guitars and all. Woods of Ypres manages to work their trade very well, and never really fail to impress.
Needless to say, the music here is very well constructed. David Gold is quite the talented songwriter. Many of the tracks have incredibly long runtimes, ( five exceed the 6 minute mark, and one approaches it), and though one might assume that slow, doom influenced music might plod on at a dreary pace for much longer than it should, surprisingly, they don't. In reality the long, winding passages flow extremely well, with few, if any unnecessary sections. For each second of sombre sounding tracks such as The Sun Was in my Eyes Part Doom, is quite vital to the enjoyment. But unlike some of their contemporaries who have longer songs, Woods of Ypres' music is very easy to pay attention to, and to be honest, it is quite difficult to miss out on any moment of the band's delivery. This is a good thing, by the way.
Woods of Ypres is currently working on their second album. If it's anywhere near as good as Pursuit of the Sun & Allure of the earth, then the band should have yet another winner in their hands. Their first two releases show that the band has a ton of potential, and if this album is anything to go by, then Woods of Ypres should go on to have a very successful career in the black metal field. Their haunting, yet comforting melodies are very interesting, and very inspiring. The band's music never seems to lose its lustre and remains fresh even after countless listens. And quite importantly, the hour long CD never feels over blown, never turns into a snore fest, despite the slow pondering riffs and melodies, and calm vocal efforts of David. Pursuit of the Sun & Allure of the Earth is a superb album, and is definitely worth looking into if you are a fan of black metal or doom metal.
See track list