Release Date: Feb 6, 2014
Record label: N/A
The third full-length release from Australia's Woods of Desolation is as much stargaze as it is blackgaze. As The Stars is a strange, shimmering musical beast, with moments of delicate, stunning beauty suddenly giving way to huge, soaring soundscapes; it's a record as subtle and intricate as it is powerful. The LP plays carefully and intelligently with overwhelming emotion as a creative palette, clearly influenced by French magicians Alcest, but their compositions are more broad-stroke and sweeping, more actively adventurous than wandering and exploratory.
Review Summary: A paradigm shiftHowever you see this rising beast that is post-black metal, one can’t deny the fact that black metal has found some new life within its confines. It’s a bastard child of hopefulness and despair, an offspring of a genre that itself was a ghastly aberration of its own stylistic parents. It’s easy to hate, but is nonetheless gaining traction due to the fact that it is also easy to love.
Those of you readers who have heard As The Stars probably feel you have this review pegged right from the start – that I’ll spend paragraphs upon paragraphs name-dropping Liturgy and Deafheaven and discussing how the album fits in with the ever growing, blogger-approved wave of “post-black metal” acts we in indie-ville just can’t stop drooling over. Well despite the fact that I’m basically doing that right now, let me at least acknowledge why such comparisons should and shouldn’t be made. The black metal project, helmed by Australian guitarist D, has been active for almost a decade now, and it would be unfair to hold an act that has progressed so much over the years to the standards of bands half its age now that their respected style of music is somewhat “in.
Known as D., the musician behind Woods of Desolation has been a prolific member of the Australian metal community for years, gaining notoriety for two now discontinued projects, Forest Mysticism and Grey Waters (with Tim Yatras of Germ). Woods of Desolation’s catalog serves as a logical bridge between the rawer, stripped-down black metal of Forest Mysticism and the atmospheric bummer rock tendencies of Grey Waters—the latter’s influence is given a place of honor on As the Stars. While the band’s always embraced black metal’s melodic potential, the shift from depressive black metal toward something brighter and more refined has been underway for years.
Australia’s Woods of Desolation return with As the Stars on Northern Silence records. Their 2011 release Torn Beyond Reason was a profound, if not unexpected, dose of melodic, emotive black metal and easily climbed to the top of my best of the year list. So with that being said, it is easy to surmise this album should garner massive attention from the anticipation alone.