Review Summary: Darkness moves aside. Light is found.False Light
is eruptive. Hailing from Ukraine, metal-melders White Ward have recently exploded onto the scene and yet there’s a wonderment that these black-gazing, corpse howlers have somehow been at their craft for an actual decade because White Ward themselves bloomed late, only releasing a debut full-length in 2017. For many it’s the sophomore, insightfully titled Love Exchange Failure
would become the plot point to which most fans of extreme music would compare. Maybe this is unfair? Because as much as the band’s previous music touted the borders between the conventional reach of a black metal band doing black metal things and a brass band on a jazz bender White Ward themselves just
fell short of blowing the proverbial socks off listeners left and right. Inspiration for things to come? No, Love Exchange Failure
had already set the tone, False Light
just needed to polish, to lift, to come into the light while shedding all the hesitation of the discography before it.
Already, “Leviathan” shows insight into just how False Light
would expand on the band’s prominent blackened influences while providing room for a well-thought dichotomy of mellow jazz melodies that respectively cut, seep and wind throughout this monstrous thirteen minute opener. The track’s core is respectively a deeper cut of metal, made accessible by its pace and marginalised approach to bringing brass instruments into the fray. “Leviathan” breathes in tempo changes, unbridled fury (especially in regards to the song’s final minutes) and melodic flourishes that guide a listener throughout the length of this gambit. More impressive is the sonic switch to gentle acoustic interplay found in “Salt Paradise”. Humble beginnings provide a sombre backdrop for Jay Gambit’s deep clean vocal frames. It’s as if White Ward are acutely aware of just how taxing metal can be; often unrelenting, unyielding and instead offers a placating stop-gap on the way to more traditionally heavy means. This is just part of False Light
’s roaring success. A balancing act well on its way to being one of the better records of the year. False Light
breathes in, breathes out, and then goes ham all over again.
“Silence Circles” and its precluding, “Phoenix” is that fury. Punishing instrumentation, roaring synth work and dual vocal passages amplify White Ward’s newest reach. Smooth brass tones make way for thunderous riffs and punishing screams. The twenty minute scope of these two songs are a lesson in contrast and in bombastic metal song-writing. “Silence Circles” in particular is filled to the brim with some of the band’s fastest drum sections to date. False Light
does falter slightly towards its back end. While “Cronus” tells a tale of a child shot by law enforcement, the music is slightly off-kilter compared to the rest of the record—favouring a too casual underlying rock motif that only sometimes sells the tale. It’s a slight niggle, dispositional in light of the furor and rage found within the song’s back half and yet, White Ward bounce back into what’s possibly the year’s best title track. “False Light” has a run-time exceeding the fourteen minute mark and is a titan that simply stands above others. Everything that False Light
has achieved throughout this record manifests itself into “False Light”...the track. Riffs surge into progressive territory while providing the very backdrop for more clean and harsh vocals. In time, the song leans into slight avant territory, while maintaining a huge sense of groove. It’s unfortunate that False Light
doesn’t finish on such a titanic high note, followed by a three minute footnote a la “Downfall”. While this closing track maintains the standard of the rest of the record, it should have found itself higher up the track list, helping bridge some of the more poignant, heavier moments peppered throughout which in turn, would allow False Light
to go out on a high.
While my complaints are few and minor, it does really go without saying that White Ward have created something special in the year 2022. False Light
is grand, explosive and somehow more forward thinking than the albums that came before it. I won’t go as far to say False Light
is innovative, but by measure of sheer quality, it is unreservedly worthy of mention among the year’s best releases. False Light
is also unhampered by its sixty-six minute run-time and a treat for extreme metal fans of all ages.