Woods III: Deepest Roots and Darkest Blues

Woods of Ypres

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Woods III: Deepest Roots and Darkest Blues Review

by Thom Jurek

In Woods of Ypres' catalog, Woods III: Deepest Roots and Darkest Blues is the litmus test for many fans. For some it's the band's classic work; for others it's a failure that wasn't worth the three-year wait. The truth lies somewhere else, but more toward the former than the latter. Recorded in Toronto in 2006 and 2007, it sums up the various musical spaces the band had inhabited to that point and points down the road to what they would become before their dissolution. It is also the last record they cut before moving to Sault St. Marie, Ontario. There are moments here when Woods of Ypres logically seek to perfect the melodic black metal displayed on Woods II: Pursuit of the Sun & Allure of the Earth, and make it even more lush with keyboard touches that border on the orchestral. The mix is hot -- especially David Gold's drums, so when it comes to more furious touches, evidenced as "The Northern Cold," Iron Grudge," "Thrill of the Struggle," and "To Lock Eyes with a Wild Beast," that thudding kit overwhelms Jessica Rose's keyboards and almost consumes Dan Hulse's basslines. (Never Gold's guitars or vocals though.) The singing is balanced between clean and guttural, and it works well, particularly when they are used alternately in the same song -- "Through Chaos and Solitude I Came" is a fine example. While "End of Tradition" commences with a few solo piano notes, the buzzing, droning, atonal guitars and rumbling drums are near anthemic with their evocation of lyric melody. The only tune that doesn't really work here is "December in Windsor," with its strummed and multi-layered acoustic guitars. The proggy elements in "Trillium: The Third of Three Winters 2004-2007" and the more doomy elements on "Distractions of Living Alone" are especially attractive, while the rabid black metal on closer "Mistakes Artists Make (The Dream Is Dead)" reveals just what the band were capable of in this context. This early North American take on black metal (though Agalloch was certainly there first) is compelling and adventuresome.

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