With the release of yet another solid album, Woods of Ypres still remains relatively unknown, which is nothing short of a crime. For ten long years Woods of Ypres self-financed everything from their recordings to their tours and merchandise. They were finally recognized just a little while ago and signed to Earache records that helped them produce Woods V: Grey Skies and Electric Light. This album can be argued is (at least according to their singer) their opus. Simple to say a band this talented should’ve grown to great stature but unfortunately on the eve of a European tour lead singer and guitarist David Gold perished in an automobile accident. Now the best they can hope for is posthumous fame.
While often Woods of Ypres is described as black/doom it’s a bit of a misnomer, but hardly in a bad way. This is a very accomplished band with multiple prog elements that range from hard rock/metal/doom/black/goth/death. Woods V is a little bit of a departure from their early work especially Against the Seasons, most of which was straight black/doom. But fans of their last few releases won’t be surprised by the direction Woods of Ypres took with this album. Musical direction wise they remind of Opeth combined with new Amorphis or Sentenced, the combination of which is a resounding success for certain listeners but may be their downfall with some. If your back itches in multiple places, this very well may be the album that scratches it.
The sixty-minute opus can be summarized with the song “Lightning & Snow”. It immediately tells you what the rest of the album is like; a tightly knit and focused masterpiece that is very sure of itself in every manner. While this may seem like a strange comment, it’s not. When some bands try to mix genres or change their sounds* end up as bad as a teenager with an identity crisis; they can’t decide on anything and it ends up hurting their sound. Luckily, the opposite can be said about Woods V; it jumps genres in a confident and sure-footed manner. The rest of the album picks up, slows down and changes genres at the drop of a hat. The slow and surprisingly intimate “Silver” follows right after the thrash like “Adora Vivos” and “Modern Life Architecture” is something that really harkens to Like Gods of the Sun and Bloody Kisses era My Dying Bride and Type O Negative while managing to maintain the unique Woods of Ypres sound. But even the quietness doesn’t last long as they like to throw in a tapped solo here or there. The entire formula that Woods of Ypres implements works out so perfectly that you don’t notice “Kiss My Ashes Goodbye” is an eleven-minute song and you’ll probably wish there were more. If you listen to their previous albums you get a sense of a saga, of which Woods V fits in perfectly as the final chapter.
While not the heaviest album in memory, it in no way retracts from the greatness of the endeavour. It is an opus in the truest sense and there has yet to be an album that has been played so much on my computer for a review. It does, however, require a little bit of an open mind. Not as much as say Mate, Feed, Kill, Repeat era Slipknot but an open mind nonetheless and is the perfect fit for the specific person. Another great thing? The album grows on you every time you listen to it and thanks to the progressive tendencies it fits into any mood you’re in. Without a doubt, Woods V is the best album I have heard this year and will be definitely included in my entry for best of 2012.