Woods Of Ypres – W4: The Green Album
Technically this isn’t a new release since it was originally released independently in 2009 back when nobody had ever heard of this Black/Doom metal band from Ontario, Canada. However, Earache Records signed these guys and decided to rerelease the album to give it the proper marketing it deserves and even some airplay on the Comcast metal channel apparently. This is probably the most depressing album I have ever owned, but I haven’t stopped listening to it in days. When I admittedly have the attention span of a puppy on crystal meth but have learned most of the lyrics to a 78 minute album in less than a week, it’s pretty special.
While most people have run directly to the ‘homage to Peter Steele’ comparisons since its release, I disagree to a certain extent. Songs like ‘Wet Leather’ and ‘By The Time You Read This (I Will Already Be Dead)’ definitely have the same gloom and deep voice that would make Mr. Steele proud in his land of merlot and sleazy women somewhere in the clouds right now. However when I think of David Gold’s vocals here and the emotion that is carried with them, I immediately think of Keith Caputo’s vocals on Life Of Agony’s River Runs Red. The vocals alone put you in a very dark place that you’re not entirely sure that you want to ever emerge from. However none of it would be possible without the perfect complimenting instruments.
The album opens with ‘Shards Of Love’ which sets the tone for the rest of the album. It’s slow, it’s painful and it’s beautiful. Anybody who has ever been through a serious breakup will feel his pain here. ‘Everything I Touch’ is a tale of depression and destroying everything you attempt to love. Again, the feeling that you know exactly where he’s coming from here creeps in and it haunts you even more. ‘By The Time You Read This’ and ‘I Was Buried In Mount Pleasant Cemetery’ are two of the darkest songs that I have ever heard which definitely says something. I have contemplated playing these songs loud enough to see if I could possibly summon Metalocalypse’s Mashed Potato Johnson for him to say “Oh Lawd boys, this is the most depressing thing I has ever heard.” ‘Into Exile’ takes a turn to the experimental with almost the same vocals Fear Factory tried during their experimental phase mixed in with spoken word much the way Tool would do it. The story behind ‘Pining (For You)’ is pretty obvious but this is the song where the sound of Type O Negative as a collective actually takes over with the chugging guitars and the eight minute running time. The vocal comparison continues into the next track ‘Wet Leather’ although the band regains their musical identity here. The lyrics here are a bit repetitive no matter how true they are, since life is really nothing more than pain and piss. ‘Suicide Cargoload’ brings out the heavier side of Woods Of Ypres that isn’t quite black metal but more like a heavier version of Down. Plenty of black metal dicks will of course complain about this along with the rest of the album because none of us can grasp depression and loneliness, but we all have a buddy who burns churches down and smokes crack with Satan – you know… That same instrumental style continues nicely into ‘Halves and Quarters’ which is a short, sweet, to the point song and arguably the most upbeat track to be found here. ‘You Are Here With Me’ is pretty much a doom metal lullaby played on an acoustic guitar that catches you off guard just as Opeth did with ‘Coil’ and feels out of place sandwiched as the tenth track on the album. ‘Retrosleep In The Morning Calm’ is an ode to sleeping alone which is also a little repetitive but pretty short and very true. ‘Don’t Open The Wounds/Skywide Armspread’ is a song where the black metal vibe starts to kick in. It’s basically all about forgetting all of the pain you’ve already endured over the course of the first 55 minutes which is pretty difficult. The black metal vibe multiplies on ‘Natural Technologies’ which reminds us that no matter how savage we are that we still crave and need love and black metal! Just when you thought that the message here was starting to take a turn towards positive, ‘Mirror Reflection & The Hammer Reinvention’ kicks in. The song is probably the most ‘experimental’ on the album because it mixes all of the aforementioned genres and influences into one song. It also turns out to be nothing short of fucking awesome. ‘Our Union (In Limbo)’ seems like a continuation to ‘Shards Of Love’ and tells where both sides of the story are now. The album closes with ‘Move On!’ which is nicely telling you that no matter how optimistic you are about your relationship, the woman will always leave the man.
I can safely put this album right up there with Opeth’s Damnation, Life Of Agony’s River Runs Red, The Cold White Light by Sentenced and Hurt’s Vol. I & Vol.II as the most depressing albums I own and also absolutely love. This definitely isn’t an album for everyone because it’s entirely too dark and multi-genred for most listeners. For anybody who is open to anything musically and has ever felt any kind of emotional pain, this is a must own album. Although at times the lyrics leave a little more to be desired, they never lack in meaning which is the key here. The craftsmanship and ingenuity of the album however removes any doubt about it. It is hands down the strongest release by these guys so far which excites me very much for Woods 5: You Were The Light hopefully in the near future. Personally I am a huge fan of their combination of black metal, doom metal, heavy metal and whatever else here and I am thrilled to have something totally different, no matter how depressing, in my library.