Finality: A Tribute to Woods of Ypres

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Midway upon the journey of my life, I found myself within a forest dark, for the straightforward path had been lost. As a frosty fog emanated from my nostrils, I looked down at my iPod to see what band was playing next. It was a band I had yet to hear as I had just bought the album. Woods 4: The Green Album began to play and my life changed. That band was Wood of Ypres. From the second I heard the incredibly heartfelt vocals, philosophical lyrics, and chilling atmosphere, I knew that I had happened upon a band that was truly special.

How do you begin an examination of one of your favorite bands? To start, I figured I’d let the music speak for itself. Here is a playlist I compiled of what I consider to be Woods of Ypres greatest hits in order of their release:

Before we head into the depths of a frosty Canadian forest, I think it is important for you to know how to pronounce the word “Ypres” as I had been pronouncing it “Yee-press” for a while. It’s actually pronounced “ee-pray” and is rooted in French. 

 

History:

Woods of Ypres started out as a fairly run-of-the-mill black metal band. Their EP and first album didn’t do much to differentiate them from other good black metal bands but they did hint at some of the key elements that would help them achieve legendary status in the coming years. Planted as a mere seedling in the first full-length Pursuit of the Sun & Allure of the Earth was the promise of something great. By the second album Woods III: The Deepest Roots and Darkest Blues, WoY established a sound that combined the sub-genres of black, doom, gothic, and dark metal to create a sound that has yet to be replicated. Many black metal purists (i.e. the people who I shove in lockers) dislike the sound of the later albums – at least that’s been my experience – because they sound noticeably less black metal and lean more to a smoother doom-type sound. For me, WoY’s sound ages like a fine wine. The later albums, though less raw and blast beat laden than the first few, are incredible pieces of music that I would call fine art. The true heart and soul of WoY is David Gold. He has been the only member to have appeared on all the albums and, according to the liner credits, he wrote all the lyrics and almost all of the music.

Lyrics:

Woods of Ypres created albums with overarching themes that repeat themselves throughout the albums while dealing with smaller subjects that bleed into the primary vein. If you pay attention, there are overarching themes in all of the albums. I’m very hard to please, lyrically speaking. I tend to end up ignoring most lyrics because they’re total rubbish; this is not the case with Woods of Ypres. Gold’s lyrics explore realms that the average peasant brain can’t meaningfully understand: depression, love, nature, daily struggles, the passage of time, the destruction of the world due to man’s negligence, the question of whether or not a god really exists, the end of life, and the emptiness of modern life. Some of my favorite sets of lyrics:

(From “Modern Life Architecture”)

“When we’re young, we design a plan,

We work, we build, we make it real

And in the moment it becomes complete,

The first cracks start to appear

A weak foundation, finally revealed

in the desperation, when the walls came tumbling down.”

(From “Finality”)

“When we have all gone, to the silence of eternity…

To first be forgotten, and lost in the records of the earth

Could I still miss you, then, in the time and space after life.

When no one is searching anymore,

And where we are nowhere to be found.”

(From “Wet Leather”)

“Life is your hopes and dreams, your expectations

When your health is a full-time job, and there’s no vacation.

Life is the comfort of a good friend’s advice

Who says it’s all your fault and your standards are too high.”

Discography:

Woods of Ypres’ discography consists of four full-lengths, one EP, and a single. The general sound of the music falls into pretty much two categories: black metal and albums that don’t fit into any genre. The EP and first full-length definitely fall into the black metal category. The second full-length is a transition between the two eras and contains a fairly even split of both black metal screams and clean vocals. The final two full-lengths fall under the latter category mentioned above. Gold’s harsh vocals range from the high black metal scream to a low growl. His clean vocals are sung in a lower register and are quite distinct. I’ve not yet heard a band with the vocal range and depth that Gold exhibits throughout his career.

Against the Seasons: Cold Winter Songs from the Dead Summer Heat:

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Against the Seasons: Cold Winter Songs from the Dead Summer Heat is WoY’s first EP. That title really rolls off the tongue. It spans over thirty minutes with just five songs. This is the only Woods of Ypres release that didn’t feature Gold on vocals. Brian McManus handled harsh vocals and guitar and Aaron Palmer (who also was in Gold’s excellent side project The Northern Ontario Black Metal Preservation Society) handled the clean vocals and bass. Gold played drums. The overall sound on this album is melodic black metal. Clean vocals are here but in a much more sparse quantity than later albums. For those who love the wintery chill of black metal, there is enough here for even the most staunch of Norwegian black metal enthusiasts. “A Meeting Place and Time” is a great sample of the clean vocal style present in the first two albums. Palmer sounds very similar to Gold; I thought Gold sang on this EP until I finally read the booklet. The vocals here remind me of the cleans that can be found in some of the newer doom metal bands such as Pallbearer and Pilgrim. Tremolo and blast beats propound themselves endlessly here. Lyrical themes include loss, death, and passage of time which are conveyed through similes and metaphors involving nature. A trademark of WoY emerges here: catchy lyrical patterns. Many of the choruses and verses will get stuck in your head. This comes from Gold’s ability to actually write music with memorable song-structure – a skill that many of his peers lack. Gold would begin to show his true potential on the next release when his songwriting takes a leap forward.

Pursuit of the Sun & Allure of the Earth:

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Let’s emerge from the wonderful wintry cold for just a moment to enter the next piece of music. Pursuit of the Sun & Allure of the Earth is their first full-length and features the arrival of Gold on vocals. A few interesting facts about this record: the album booklet refers to this album as being titled Against the Seasons II: Pursuit of the Sun & Allure of the Earth. It wouldn’t be till the next album that the records would be referred to as Woods. Technically, this album could be titled Woods II: Pursuit of the Sun & Allure of the Earth and the EP as Woods I: Against the Seasons. Another thing to note is that Connor Sharpe played bass and Steve Jones played guitars for most of the recording but quit before finishing. Gold finished the guitar and bass and then recorded vocals and drums. Sharpe and Jones are not credited in the album booklet for their contribution. In addition, Jessica Rose performed on keyboard. Gold’s vocals are golden (*wink*). More clean vocals are used in this album though the harsh vocals are still abundant.

As the album’s title suggests, the overarching theme of this album is the earth’s allure and sun. Six out of the ten track titles have something to do with heat or the sun and three of them have something to do with forests. The lyrics on this album are interesting whether you interpret them literally or metaphorically. At face value, you get an album about nature. Metaphorically, they mean many different thing based upon your worldview. For me, it seems as if the album tackles inner turmoil a great deal. The progression from the EP is quite apparent in this album. Significantly better production, better lyrics, and better song composition make it a stark improvement from the previous effort. There isn’t a throwaway song on this album. Some of the highlights include “The Sun Was in My Eyes: Part One”, “Allure of the Earth”, and “The Ghost of Summer’s Past”. The vocals improved greatly on this album. With Gold at the helm, a mainstay in the vocal style was born. One technique utilized in all their music from here on out is the layering of vocals. Gold will record portions of songs while singing in a low register and then record the vocals again while singing in a higher register. The resulting combination yields a pleasant amalgamation of highs and lows to keep the ‘ole ears dancing.

Musically, this album presents more melodic black metal. There is a bit more acoustic guitar this time around. Elements of doom and gothic metal are mixed in for a slightly more emotional tinge. I really find the artwork for this album to be stunning. Though it doesn’t depict anything in particular, it manages to capture the feeling of the album with just a splotch of green and gold paint. The physical CD is even cooler. Shiny golden paint spells the album’s and band’s name. The album booklet contains several pictures of nature lavished in gold. The next album is where Woods of Ypres began to fully realize their trademark sound.

Woods III: The Deepest Roots and the Darkest Blues:

woods3

Woods III: The Deepest Roots and the Darkest Blues is a defining album. This album is where Gold begins to craft truly beautiful and emotion driven songs that caress the soul. The album title alone conjures up images of the origins of nature, the traditions and values that define us, and depression. The great title is complemented by equally great cover art. It manages to encapsulate the feeling of the album perfectly by giving images depicting the death of things, the cold of winter, forests, blizzards, the wild, depression, and even a small glimmer of hope in the form of a plant growing at the base of the tombstone. This album is the transition from frosty black metal to a warming soul-seeking journey to the deepest fathoms of the inner heart. More elements of doom, dark, and Gothic metal perforate the existence. Jessica Rose returns on keyboard. Gold performs the vocals, guitars, and drums. Dan Hulse joined and recorded bass and has credits for vocals, though I couldn’t tell you where they appeared on the album.

Your Ontario Town Is Just a Burial Ground” is one of the standout tracks on this album. It exemplifies the Woods of Ypres sound. Catchy riffs, expertly delivered clean and harsh vocals that chill the bone, and a production that makes it possible to hear all the instruments equally (well, the bass could be a bit louder). This album is packed with music – 15 tracks that run over an hour. One of my favorite songs on this album is “Through Chaos and Solitude I Came…”. It contains of my favorite lyrics from this album:

“Modern life can drive us to scream for the trees…(in harmony)

For those of us who can’t find peace, at least we can have a release.”

I would think these words would resonate with many metalheads. We listen to this wild crazy noise that some people wouldn’t even call music because it satisfies a place in us that nothing else can sate. “Years of Silence” is a great example of a song filled with passion and emotion and is also very depressing. “Deepest Roots: Belief That All Is Lost” and it’s companion “Darkest Blues: Relief That Nothing Can Be Done” are phenomenal and do an excellent job at contrasting tempos. This album is a gem. It is the transition from pure black metal to the sound which dominates Woods 4 and Woods 5. It has the catchy nature of pop but doesn’t lose all depth and meaning, rather, adding to depth and meaning. The next release would display a new sound that would cement Woods of Ypres status as legends.

Woods of Ypres 4: The Green Album

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The black metal purists have annihilated this albums rating on Encyclopaedia Metallum. On Woods 4: The Green Album, the black metal screams are all but gone at this point and replaced by a low growl. More drastically, much of the vocals on this album are clean. The album cover depicts a square of green of different hues with a single dot of faded red which dribbled down the front (blood, perhaps?). The lineup changes yet again with Bryan Belleau on lead guitar, Evan Madden on drums, and Shane Madden on drums. Gold takes command of vocals as well as guitars and piano. To avoid this article being novel-length, I’ll cover only the most standout tracks leave the others for you to discover on your own.

In a morbid twist of fate, the first song I ever heard by Woods of Ypres was “By the Time You Read This (I Will Already Be Dead)”. David Gold died in a car crash on his way to his mother’s home for Christmas; it’s pretty damn eerie to hear a prediction come true. This album seems to be much more somber than any of the other releases up to this point. Doom metal is much more of an influence in this album (and not the Sabbath-esque variety that is still absurdly prominent in metal). “I Was Buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery” is one of my favorite songs of all time. It’s perfect. An optimum mix of slowness, speed, emotion, vocals, and instrumental make this piece a wonderful experience. Gold references a few people in this song including Glenn Gould (a pianist), Joseph Mulgrew (a punk vocalist), Alexander Muir (Wrote “The Maple Leaf Forever”, an unofficial Canadian national anthem), and Timothy Eaton (a department store magnate). “Dirty Window of Opportunity: Can You Get Here in 10 Days?” contains a particularly nice solo and spoken word section. The classic “Wet Leather” is a song that has been stuck on repeat in my head for three years now. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t sing, “Life is just pain and piss, it’s nothing that I will miss.”

Suicide Cargoload (Drag That Weight!)” brings the heavy quotient to the album with a gnarly sludge riff. “You Are Here with Me (In This Sequence of Dreams)” makes a perfect, and foreboding intro to “Retro Sleep in the Morning Calm”. Retro Sleep’s lyrics confuse me. Taken at face value, it appears that the narrator sleeps frequently because he is alone but at the same time he sleeps alone because he tosses and turns during his sleep. If there is a metaphor here, it is lost on me. The instrumentation is fantastic, nonetheless. “Mirror Reflection & the Hammer Reinvention” has lyrics that really resonate with me. I take it to mean that you shouldn’t conform to a particular mindset and never change yourself because someone wants you to. It also touches on a subject which I have written several papers on: solitude. Solitude is a crucial element in being creative. Other people’s work can inspire you but, only when the mind is left alone does it come up with something that is really outstanding. Solitude is the way you can take your experiences and quantify it into something manageable. “Move On! (The Woman Will Always Leave the Man)” closes the album in a perfect way. It has that dark and depressed feeling that emanates throughout the entire album. The album is an exceptional piece of art. For me, this is a good album to listen to when you want to ponder the nature of life. This is my go to for mountain wanderings.

Home:

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Home is a single which frequently gets overlooked in discussions of the band’s discography. The single itself contains two songs: “Falling Apart” and “You Were the Light”. There were five tracks that were not included on Woods 5. Home contains two of them; the other three are still unreleased though there is a video on the band’s YouTube channel that features snippets of them. Here’s that video. “Falling Apart” is a heavy song featuring mostly screamed vocals. The single itself was only released as a digital download and on vinyl. Shane Madden and Evan Madden reprise their roles on their respective instruments and Joel Violette joins on lead guitars. Gold continues to do guitars and vocals. “You Were the Light” is decent. Frankly, there is a reason these songs were left off the album. They’re good but don’t seem to have the quality of the material on Woods 5.

Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Lights:

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This album was released a month after David Gold’s death. As we now reach climax, we come to Woods 5: Grey Skies and Electric Light. Woods of Ypres was honored with a Juno award (the Canadian version of a Grammy) for the best Metal/Hard Music album of the year ang it was much deserved. This album has been life-changing for me. Gold’s incredible lyrics explore intense subjects whose mere mention spark internet wars. David Gold takes command of vocals, rhythm guitars, and drums while Joel Violette returns for lead guitars, piano, and bass. “Lightning & Snow” kicks off the album with a bang. I haven’t quite come to understand the lyrics yet. The best I think of is dying, bad luck, or being alone. “Death Is Not an Exit” ponders death. It conjectures that there is no afterlife and death is the end of everything that you are.

“We were nothing…for a billion years before our time,

And we will be…nothing more again, for an eternity to come.”

The song even sounds final and it ends perfectly (you’ll know what I mean when you listen to it). “Keeper of the Ledger” has an incredibly interesting concept. “The Keeper” represents God. The Keeper’s only goal is to take your life to be repaid for the time that you were given to live. He cares about the quantity of time more than the quality. “Traveling Alone” is a story about a man who knows that God does not exist. He contemplates on whether or not he should tell anyone the truth and remove all hope in their life. He chooses not to, so, he travels alone. “Adora Vivos” is one of my favorite songs on the album. The concept of this song is something that I believe should be taken to heart. Gold suggests that we need to stop worshiping the dead (guess I failed that part) and love the people who are alive and well. These lyrics encapsulate the song:

“A moment of silence, (for the dead) but not one moment more.

They’ve all gone to be forgotten, we’re still here, to be adored.”

As I mentioned earlier, concepts for the album are repeated throughout the whole album in this song it used the the following lyrics:

“In the bleak life and modern times.

Under grey skies and electric light.”

It mentions almost the same two lines in “Death Is Not an Exit” This song is definitely not one to miss if you’re only interested in scanning through the highlights. “Career Suicide (Is Not Real Suicide)” competes heavily for my favorite WoY song. It is simply explained by the title: Career suicide isn’t the same as suicide. You can rebound from committing career suicide so, don’t fret. The solo on this song sends shivers down my back. The riff is supremely catchy and I hum it constantly. Next comes “Modern Life Architecture“. Continuing with the theme of the bleakness of modern life, Gold sings about how we plan our lives around things and concepts. When one of these crumble, we fall hard. We try desperately to enact our dream and continue to fail until we give up or die. “Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye)” signifies the ever nearing end of this masterpiece. This mighty ten-minute piece tells the listener to not cry and mourn his death while their own life wastes away. Gold sings:

“We’ve cried enough in our lives, at the end of our time,

just kiss my ashes goodbye.”

This is one of the more doom-y songs on the album and the chorus is undeniably mournful. Gold excels at putting emotion into his singing. At any given point, as long you aren’t completely dense, it is easy to feel the emotion he is attempting to convey. This album is a perfect example of how track placement can affect the listener.

The CD version of the album plays the song “Finality” and then ends with “Alternative Ending”. The LP version just ends with “Finality”. It came with a bonus 7” with “Alternate Ending” and a different mix of “Finality” on it. “Finality” may be the best ending to an album I have ever heard. It is a very slow song that is purely meant to punch you right in the feelers. “Alternative Ending” isn’t a bad song by any stretch of the imagination – it’s one of the best on the album – but I feel that “Finality” has both the perfect name and feeling for the final song ever released by Wood of Ypres.

“Finality” is a song about dying and longing for the one you love to be with you in the afterlife. This has been the only song in existence that has ever made me cry. It is a song that definitely seems to resonate with people. A YouTube video of this song has nearly 62,000 views and only one thumbs down. That speaks volumes of the quality of music if it can appease the toxic community on YouTube. The song ends with the line:

“I will wait forever. I wait…”

This album ends there. It leaves the narrator continuing to wait in the silence of eternity.

“Alternative Ending” is creepily predictive lyrically.

“Back on the highway, under the moon, my final moments.”

The chorus in this song is beautiful. Both the “Finality” and “Alternative Ending” endings have their own merits and it is ultimately up to you as to which is the superior ending.

Where to Begin:

When diving into a band’s discography it is essential that you pick the correct albums to get the correct impression of their sound. The first Slayer album I listened to was Diabolus in Musica. This was a terrible album to show to someone who was interested in hearing thrash metal. Where Woods of Ypres is concerned, I think it is important that I give my recommendation for the order in which you should listen to the albums. If you’re interested in hearing a large sampling of songs from across their discography, my “greatest hits” playlist above will serve you well. I’ve included every song that I think it would be a greatest hit (though they don’t have any songs that aren’t at least good).

As far as albums go, Woods III is a good place to start. Enough black metal is retained so that the previous two releases don’t sound alien and it contains enough of the newer sound so that it doesn’t sound like a new band. In addition, this album has some of the best songs in the discography. “Your Ontario Town Is Just a Burial Ground”, “Through Chaos and Solitude I Came…”, and “Years of Silence (And the Private Joke)” are three back-to-back hits. From there, I would recommend listened to Against the Season and Pursuit of Sun & Allure of the Earth next so you can save two of the best for last. Woods 5 is my favorite of their albums so I’d listen to it last.

Into the Vaults of Eternity:

Woods of Ypres was an incredible band that has created some of my favorite music of all time. From their humble beginnings as a fairly average black metal band to a truly unique sounding amalgamation of different genres to create music that appeals to a larger market while still being distinctly metal, David Gold and the rotating cast of musicians have crafted one of the most solid discographies to ever be released by a band.

In memory of David Gold, 1980-2011. To the music he played, the music he wrote, and the music he would have.

  • Guacamole Jim

    NEW FONT??

  • oh no, i’ve been saying “Words of Ypres” all this time!

  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

    So, is there a theme today showcasing bands with a deceased member?

    • Huh. I did not think about that. The anniversary of Gold’s death was yesterday so this seemed appropriate today.

    • Gurrp

      Next up- Euronymous, Varg, & Mayhem: What REALLY Happened

      • Æ (Justin Nowlin)

        That’d be a great read 🙂

  • Irrelevant but I just realized xmas is going to interrupt tdt. and so is new years.

    • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

      Long time to remain techless

    • You just ruined my xmas this year, Jackie boy.

      • Good xmas sucks anyway! I probably wont make blog posts about it but I may post stuff in the fb group

    • Guacamole Jim

      On Christmas, give us the present of Tech Death. On New Year’s, your resolution should be to give us the present of Tech Death again, on that very same day. Problem solved.

    • BLVKKBEVRD OV GREVT DVWKINS

      Jack, why didn’t you just do a 12 days of tech death christmas for us? and papajoe could have just put them on autopilot. Now we all suffer for your apathy!

    • VVorld Peace

      We’re figuring out the schedule for this week, but I don’t know if we’ll let New Years mess with things.

      • This pleases the archbauer

      • Simon PhoenixKing

        I will be WAY TOO DRUNK to write anything for New Years. Just sayin.

  • Tyree
  • Haven’t actually listened to Woods much, I’m definitely going to now. Great write-up!

    • Thanks! They’re excellent. Definitely not without flaws, but I enjoy them immensely.

  • BLVKKBEVRD OV GREVT DVWKINS

    As Xan already is aware, I’m a huge Woods fan. This was a great write-up, exploring almost every aspect of the band and its discography. My applause for giving this legend his place in our annals.

    As I said the other day, hoping we can get his bandmates that played on Woods 5 in an interview about their band Thrawsunblat (new album coming in 2015).

    • Thanks, man. Twas a labor of love.

      • BLVKKBEVRD OV GREVT DVWKINS

        When I think about Gold I remember that he didn’t really like this world. May be harsh to say but he may be glad he’s not here anymore.

        • It seems as if they people who create the greatest works of art are always the ones who have had their eyes open to the true desolation of humanity and their life oft ends prematurely.

  • Tyree

    More Canadian Black Metal. BLAST IT!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcZNmAcDG-g

      • Tyree
      • J.R.

        This music of theirs just fills my spirit with an energy beyond the grasp of human language to describe.
        “She, Arboreal” is my favorite song of theirs, followed closely by “Song of the Nihilist” and “Bones in the Undertow”…and I’m forgetting “Goose River” and “Maritime Shores”.
        It’s just all so good and I cant get enough of it.

    • Howard Dean

      Tyree, I might be seeing Revenge with Watain and Mayhem in a few weeks. Byah!

      • Tyree

        Have you ever seen Revenge live? It’s an experience!

        I have to look up the dates for this tour.

        • Howard Dean

          No, I haven’t. I’m excited!

          And even though I’m not the hugest Mayhem fan, and I’m up in the air about Watain (Casus Luciferi, Sworn to the Dark, and half of Lawless Darkness are pretty decent), I’m excited to see their live shows.

          • Tyree

            I’m not into Watain at all really but I’m sure they’ll put on a good show. Mayhem and Revenge will be fucking intense for sure though. I’m looking at the dates now, I may do the Baltimore show.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Seeing the show in Chicago.

  • KJM
    • Æ (Justin Nowlin)

      Type O Negative is a band I sometimes forget about, but then when I remember them I listen to them nonstop for weeks. Thanks for reminding me

      • KJM

        Peter Steele died on my 43rd birthday, kinda hard to forget for me.

        • Æ (Justin Nowlin)

          That’s rather unfortunate. If you like Type O, I recommend you listen to A Pale Horse Named Death. It’s a goth metal band with members from Type O.

          • KJM

            I like “Die Alone”. I follow APHND on Twitter and vice versa.

          • Æ (Justin Nowlin)

            I am now currently blasting “I Don’t Wanna Be Me”. I’m quite sad I never saw them live 🙁

          • KJM

            I was lucky enough to see them 4 times.

          • Type O is a band that I just haven’t had the time to listen to yet. I’ve listened to both of APHND’s albums and loved them. I’ll make sure to keep reminding myself to listen to them and I hopefully have by this time next year.

          • Æ (Justin Nowlin)

            Type O is a fantastic band, they are definitely worth a try.

        • CT-12

          You hear of the biography on Pete called “Soul on Fire”? Just got it like 3 days ago, such a fucking good read so far, I’m probably about 150-200 pages in by now (and I’m not an avid reader). I’d definitely recommend it for any fan of TON.

          • KJM

            I’ll check it out.

    • Tyree
  • VVorld Peace

    Pretty sure Lightning and Snow symbolizes that watershed moment that many men face in their lives. The flash of lightning is the moment of clarity that allows you to finally realize how far you’ve fallen, leaving you begging for a second chance, only to realize that there is none and you have to live with the mistakes you’ve made.

    • BLVKKBEVRD OV GREVT DVWKINS

      Thanks, W. I’m going to go kill myself now.

      • VVorld Peace

        Drag that weight.

        • BLVKKBEVRD OV GREVT DVWKINS

          *Military presses burdens into the heavens

          • Howard Dean

            *Deadlifts dread out of the doldrums.

          • Akercocke ov Steele

            Hang-cleans the despair into clarity.

      • Metaphysical Anus

        Don’t forget to bring a towel.

    • Thanks for the insight. Your resplendent knowledge has cleared up an enigma of mine.

      • VVorld Peace

        It helps when you’ve had that sort of moment in your life 😉

        • I’ll probably have it in a few years. In about six months I’ll be living on my own for the first time in my life. I suspect it shall be a time of great inner turmoil and questioning. At least my friend is also going to the same college so I won’t be completely isolated.

          • BLVKKBEVRD OV GREVT DVWKINS

            College is tumultuous. Also the greatest time of my life. (there it goes, W).

          • VVorld Peace

            My watershed moment was right at the beginning of graduate school for me. Thankfully, and I think David Gold would agree, life goes on.

          • greatest time of my life: age 30 -> present. i have no wife (or ex-wife) and no kids. i just take care of two wonderful cats and party with my neighbors.

          • more beer

            That is a good path. After seeing a bunch of my friends crushed by wives and divorces, I knew that wasn`t the path for me. It`s the reason I can still live and afford my metal lifestyle.

          • i have lost several friends to children. but i’m sure divorce is just horrendous.
            it’s just so weird to me when i invite a friend out and he says “let me check with the wife”. *shudders*

          • more beer

            Usually where there is a wife there are kids. Most of my friends wives don`t really like me. I get them to do everything the wife doesn`t want them to do. Go to shows, drink & smoke too much weed. you know the things I`m good at! Plus I don`t need permission to do anything.

          • Howard Dean

            To be honest, college is the “having your cake and eating it too” of life. It is all the benefits of being an actual “adult” with almost none of the downside of real adulthood. Unless you opt for a period of extended adolescence (which in turn must be aided and abetted by a complicit third party), college is likely to be the only time in your life when you experience this phenomenon.

          • VVorld Peace

            Then real life grabs you be the jimmies and forces responsibility down your throat. Not that that’s a bad thing. In fact, I think young men should be given more responsibility than is often required of them.

          • Howard Dean

            I actually agree with that. It would make the transition into adulthood easier.

          • Backed.

          • cool! don’t forget to come to your flushing friends with life’s daily dilemmas. like, how to eat for a week on $20… or how to get everyone at a party to hate you.

          • As if I’d ever go to a party. Fuck that, I’ll sit at home drinking Sunny D and playing video games with no clothes on.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            That’s a good decision, I say as a person who knows what he’s talking about. People suck.

          • they don’t all suck! i hosted a case day one saturday and we watched live metal shows all day

      • Edward #negrod4eva

        Xan I am super late to this party. It took me a couple of sittings to read this behemoth because work lol. Fantastic article. The bar has been raised, again.

      • CT-12

        Fuck yeah, thanks for the detailed write up Xan! Everytime I check this band out, I only penetrate the surface and end up forgetting to go any deeper into their albums. This year, that will change dammit!

    • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

      At the risk of being called a life lover I say:
      Powerful stuff! A good life is still possible even after falling, or jumping willingly, into into the abyss. Seven times down eight times up!

      • VVorld Peace

        As they’d say here in Texas. Keep your head down and your feet moving.

  • Dante’s Inferno was a nice touch. RIP David.

    • The Divine Comedy is some of my favorite books of all time. I found that line to be incredibly memorable to me so I thought it’d be a nice literary allusion.

      • Yeah, I treasure my copy of ‘The Divine Comedy.’ I have an alternative translation though.

        When I had journeyed half of our life’s way
        I found myself within a shadowed forest,
        for I had lost the path that does not stray.

        • I’ve got a paperback collection as well as the digital edition. One day, I’ll step up to my father’s level and get the leather–bound one’s that look like they came from the crusades.

          • VVorld Peace

            I’ve got a leather-bound copy of Don Quixote that’s absolutely beautiful.

          • I managed to get a pretty cheap version of The Hobbit bound in leather. I want The Lord of the Rings bound in it but it cost about $140 and I couldn’t justify spending that much on a book I own five copies of already.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            The original translation of “The Hobbit” back in before LOTR or thereabouts, all the names are hilarious. Don’t know what’s it worth though, I reckon a few billions at least

  • BLVKKBEVRD OV GREVT DVWKINS

    If all this talk about David Gold and the imploding red giant of a dead star that is Woods of Ypres is getting just a little too bleak for you, take a gander at this star that’s only just melting This album would have undoubtedly made my top 10 (we got our buddy the yellow vinyl for xmas), because Melting Sun is a Lantlos that is thriving despite Neige’s absence:

    http://youtu.be/flvmug_-2fE

    • Metaphysical Anus

      Does it djent?

      • BLVKKBEVRD OV GREVT DVWKINS

        It djents none at all. Post-rock/shoegaze masterpiece a la Slowdive.

        • Metaphysical Anus

          Does it have crescendos?

          • BLVKKBEVRD OV GREVT DVWKINS

            It crescendos much.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            Then me may like it.

          • BLVKKBEVRD OV GREVT DVWKINS

            If you liked Agape, which had Neige on vocals, you may not like this. It is most certainly a return to .neon-era Lantlos (sans Neige, as well). Very few BM nods on this album.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            I have never heard those names, mate. Is this good enough to stop Shadows of the Suns?

          • BLVKKBEVRD OV GREVT DVWKINS

            Neige is of Alcest fame. And yes, this has my #trillbacking

          • Metaphysical Anus

            If it ain’t, I’m gonna nail your head to the floor.

          • Guacamole Jim

            You really like Monty Python, eh?

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            Who doesn’t?

          • Guacamole Jim

            Fucking plebs, that’s who.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            Indeed I do, my sweet Quacamole Queen.

    • Holy balls, this is great. This will be a band that I am going to have to check out.

  • Th’load&th’road

    Xan- thanks for this post! Woods 4 and woods 5 are two of those rare albums that I never grow tired of, and resonate emotionally and lyrically in a way that so few do. Love it and I applaud the writing and investment of time on your part, it’s clearly genuine love for this music! Good on ya motherfucker

    • Thanks! WoY are a very special band to me. As much as I love death metal and headbanging, I sometimes has to sit back and listen to music that is cathartic. Woods of Ypres is that kind of band for me. I’ve found that much of black metal (particularly the atmospheric kind) helps me do that. I’m much more nature oriented in black metal than the 2kool4youcuzIhateGod black metal.

      • VVorld Peace

        Hey Xan, keep an eye on a band I’m mentioning tomorrow for Toilet Tuesday. They remind me of Woods and Agalloch.

  • Akercocke ov Steele

    And the Encyclopedia Metallum crowd are hard to please. Apparently (Classic album A) is a “short-sighted lazed-out shit heap of technical tripe and it is is beyond me how anybody manages to find listenable” Keep in mind that shit is said of all of classic metal albums.

    • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

      No one, I mean absolutely no one, reads the MA forums or reviews. Absurdity and mental deficiency rule that dominion.

      • Akercocke ov Steele

        I have learned that the hard way.

      • Metaphysical Anus

        Someone over there called DsO tech death,

        • Howard Dean

          To be fair, modern DsO has more in common with Gorguts and Ulcerate than it does with Darkthrone, Katharsis, or Horna.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            true. I think I remember someone complaining that they’re not black metal because they seem to be christian in one DsO review.

          • VVorld Peace

            Well, they are orthodox in a certain sense 😉

          • Howard Dean

            I’ve never been of the belief that a band must be Satanic to be truly “black metal” (to me, black metal is a sound, not an aesthetic or a lyrical theme). Regardless of that, DsO has been at least partially a death metal band since Si Monumentum… and Kenose, before becoming predominately death metal with black metal accoutrements from Fas… onward. They tend to dodge the pitfalls many other tech/dissonant death metal bands fall into, such as horrible songwriting, sterility, and being devoid of atmosphere. DsO play a techy/dissonant death metal and combine it with the feel, grit, and atmosphere of black metal.

            A lot of the really negative DsO reviews on MA are from diehard fans of the early era of the band. Original vocalist Shaxul has been pretty clear about how he feels about the band now. And really, their music IS religious–fervently and devoutly. But I wouldn’t say it’s “Christian.” Their lyrics draw from canonical Christian, Jewish, and Islamic texts, as well as the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha and the writings of secular philosophers. But their analysis and interpretation of these texts does not align at all with the Abrahamic religions. At the very best, one could argue they are an extremely apostasized and bastardized form of fringe Christianity or something.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            Aren’t they something called metaphysical satanism? I’ve heard it being connected to the band.

          • Howard Dean

            From their interview:

            “Let me say though that the main implication of the word “orthodox” in this context is a proud statement of the recognition of Satan being of divine essence, of the location of Devilworship on a religious and metaphysical level. The easy escape of using the word ideology instead of confronting oneself with the real challenges only portrays the terribly low level on which the major current of ‘Satanism’ is crawling.”

          • Howard Dean

            Addendum: They believe any interpretation of Satan other than “metaphysical Satanism/Devilworship” to be intellectually invalid.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            Didn’t Shaxul dislike the whole Orthodox/Metaphysical satanism thing?
            I don’t see how lyrical themes or aesthetics could ever, ever make a genre instead of the sound. Case in point BAN, and pretty much every “Nature” BM band ever.

          • Howard Dean

            Oh, I totally agree. I think those people who believe aesthetics/lyrics constitute “genres” are completely wrong.

            Shaxul hated the move towards the orthodox/metaphysical. He’s been particularly vitriolic about it in recent interviews (a lot of that venom has likely resulted from the success the band has experienced since he departed).

          • Simon PhoenixKing

            I’d say it’s a loop of influence. DsO took a lot of influence from “Obscura” and “From Wisdom to Hate”. Then Gorguts and Ulcerate took that influence back from them for Colored Sands and Vermis respectively.

          • Howard Dean

            Definitely. Luc Lemay hasn’t been at all shy about his adoration for DsO. He’s referenced them a lot in interviews, wears their merch, and once said that Hasjarl is the most underrated and creative guitarist in metal.

      • Howard Dean

        This is a statement about which I say “This statement is not at all true.”

        • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

          This again is a statement about which I say “These be words of a raving lunatic who hath not wandered into dominion of absurdity”

          • Howard Dean

            Let’s be honest: There are a bunch of neanderthal mouth-breathers over at MA. But it’s certainly not the rule. Many of the most prolific writers/commenters and members of the community are pretty damn knowledgeable. And there is still a decent awareness of the underground over there (even if other forums have become better pulses in the underground).

            But let’s be even more honest: MA is bar none the largest and most comprehensive resource for metal. Period. Are there some idiot reviewers and commenters? Sure. But there are a ton of quality contributors, and lots of quality information.

          • VVorld Peace

            I think Christian posts any reviews he writes for us over there as well.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            As far as I can tell, he’s only posted one so far

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            As I said as a response to another comment in this same thread, there are some few knowledgeable persons there, but the are the exception. I only go for the info on bands.

      • PrivateTwitterIsKvlt

        With certain regulars there I’ve noticed that if they hate an album, I usually like it, so that helps.

        • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

          And in all fairness there be a few who have the skill to craft a coherent sentence and possibly are not fully retarded.

      • KJM

        Names and dates are the only reason I go there.

        • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

          Likewise

      • Simon PhoenixKing

        The only reviewer I even remotely enjoy reading at MA is Autothrall. The majority of the rest are equivalent to the majority of people who comment in the NWN forums: blithering idiots.

        • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

          BastardHead is the other not so bad.

    • JWG

      Their attitude toward WOY is pretty much exactly why I can’t and don’t trust opinions given on E-M or MA or whatever. That there are very few albums with even remotely a sample of opinions that suggest any significance (5 reviews in a site that allows aggregate reviews, even if closely matched, means nothing. 30 might, but only if they’re *not* all in exactly the same range).

      • Akercocke ov Steele

        It’s just some of the reviews are, let’s say, really really opinionated, like as if the reviewer could have written a better album while he was deaf. That and it’s classics like Individual Thought Patterns, Covenant, or Vital Remains’ Icons of Evil (They REALLY hated that one). It’s like man get off your high horse.

  • Th’load&th’road

    Joe thanks for up vote and Xan thanks for reply. I’m not really new here, I check it and read and love it erry damn night just rarely post cuz it seems the discussions are done by the time I get to it. And I can’t get a fkn avatar to load from the ipad ;( thanks for all the new music I’ve been introduced to here! BYAH *Flush* trailer pants lobuttz trve cvlt void and shit y’all m/ >.< m/

    • BLVKKBEVRD OV GREVT DVWKINS

      You’ll find that some of us post well into the night (scrubs)

    • VVorld Peace

      Unfortunately, I’m not sure how to prevent our day/night split, but I do know quite a few commenters are active at night. Greetings from one of the Daywalkers!

    • CT-12

      Know what you’re saying about the discussions and whatnot; usually when I get off work, I’m right past the tail end of discussion, so there’s really no point in commenting any further. That’s why I’m glad I have today and tomorrow off!

    • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

      few of us are active from the moment ToH goes on and throughout the night, mostly

    • Glad to have you here brother.

    • I try to post when the articles are released but up until recently I’d miss the first couple because of school. I’m on Christmas break at the moment so I literally have nothing to do but play video games and read this website.

    • howdy! (are you that one guy with whom I Google+?)

  • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
    • Howard Dean

      “botj at once?”

      zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz you need a proofreader! Get off your hoveround and find one!

  • Simon PhoenixKing

    Excellent write up Xan. Woods was always one of those bands that I hear nothing but good things about from everyone that talks about them. But I’ve been too much of a lazy lifelover to check them out. I’ll definitely rectify that soon though. (To be fair I was the same way with Enslaved a year or two ago and now I absolutely love them.)

  • JWG

    I think it’s important to note that in “Mount Pleasant Cemetery” that the names he quotes follow more than one theme, and individually differ in ways that suggest a more complex subtext. What that subtext might be remains debatable. It might be as simple as being personal influences, of a sort. But I think it’s something else entirely.

    For one thing, “Joseph Mulgrew” is entirely a fictional character. That alone adds a depth of reinterpretation (it’s probably why in the song he never finds his grave).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_Core_Logo

    Also consider how the character dies and what leads up to it (just read the plot summary). Considering how much of WOY’s material is concerning the finality of death (morbid pun intended) there must be meaning in the sequence from a guy who died of old age (Muir), to one who died in middle age (Gould, who had a severe stroke in middle age, and was taken off life support a week later by his father) to one who, clearly mentally instable, killed himself in the presence of others.

    • Ferris Mueller

      I haven’t read the lyrics but always interpreted the song as being about a ‘lost’ spirit telling its story and working towards closure which perhaps was his grave being found or having a proper burial with pomp and appreciation.

  • Ferris Mueller

    The first song from Woods 4, Shards of Love, literally helped save my marriage. Unfortunately, I only heard WOY after Gold’s death and found them on Pandora while searching for a band similar to TON. The first song I heard from TOY, Silver, only took one listen to tell WOY was different from the other contenders like Poisonblack, Charon, 69 Eyes and Lacrimas Profundere. I can’t say anything about their work that wasn’t already addressed in this excellently-written article except that I’d sever appendages to get a vinyl.

  • Ferris Mueller

    Xan, you seriously should consider supplementing WOYs Wikipedia page. I previously went there looking for this kind of breadth and depth and was left wanting.

  • Miguel Serra

    This is the anthology I needed. When I got alone time I will check first Green Album. I will try to isolate until my family thinks that I’m doing another private stuff that I will not name.

    Note: I despise black merol purist. We use those bastards in our shooting practice!…

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