Rare are those moments when you come across music that really connects with you and you just know that you’ve found a new favorite band. Some people have a new favorite band every week which dilutes the experience. Since I’m always looking for new music I too come across a lot of music that I really like, but these moments I’m talking about are different than that, more special. I’ve had moments like this when I first heard Metallica’s “Ride the Lightning” in 1984, or Manowar’s “Fighting the World”. Iron Maiden’s “Powerslave”, “Hammerheart” by Bathory and “Down” by Sentenced were also moments of this kind. These are the moments that define our taste in music and help us identify ourselves with the rest of the world through the music we enjoy. They become part of our metal DNA.
“Woods IV: The Green Album” was one of those moments for me. Though this is their fourth album since 2002, I only just discovered this album last year. While part of me kicks myself for not having discovered Woods of Ypres sooner, I was also ecstatic that I had four whole albums to dive into at once. All four albums are very well done, though the first is most different from the rest as much of the album has a traditional black metal sound to it. Starting with the second album there were a lot more clean vocals than harsh and the sound had much more doom influence than black metal, however that black metal influence has never disappeared completely. That’s part of what I love so much about this band, that they can so easily transition from lush clean beautiful elements into stark cold black metal, within the same song, and not make it feel jarring or forced together. It sounds very natural.
But I digress. I’m here to talk about “Woods IV”. It would be doing an injustice to compare Woods of Ypres to other artists, but I’ll take my best stab at it as long as you understand these are merely adjectives to assist in comprehending their sound and not what they actually sound like. For that you need to check them out yourself and make your own decisions. With that said, Katatonia and End of Green are the first things to come to mind. Many of the vocals, particularly on “Woods IV” are clean and deep. They sound to me like a cross between Michelle Darkness of End of Green and Brad Roberts of the rock band Crash Test Dummies. David Gold’s voice is deep and powerful and I simply cannot get enough of it.
The music on this album is lush and thick and I cannot help thinking these Woods are green and healthy. It tends toward heavy mid-tempo, sometimes slower, sometimes faster. There’s some catchy piano in “I Was Buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetary”.
Some of my favorite tracks on this album include “By the Time You Read This (I Will Already be Dead)” and “Wet Leather”. This is a great album to listen to when feeling down and “Wet Leather” sums things up in a way I can sometimes relate to with the words “Life is just pain and piss, it’s nothing that I will miss”. Certainly not the most inspirational lyrics, but relatable and personally I find the lyrics on this album very cathartic; a salve for my wounds if you will.
“Woods IV” certainly doesn’t skimp on material. At sixteen tracks and over 79 minutes it is epic in scope. Listening to the album all the way through is rather like eating too much candy. It’s oh so good, but too much of a good thing can make you ill. Not that the album makes me ill, far from it, but it can tire me out, I don’t have the stamina.
Every time I listen to the album I hear some cool part that I didn’t notice the last time around. I expect at some point I’ll know it so well that won’t happen anymore, but for now I’m enjoying the discoveries. And this is an album that I will be enjoying for years to come. It joins the ranks of the classic albums mentioned above in my hall of metal heroes. And you know what? “Woods V” is supposedly going to be released in November, mere months from now, and I salivate in anticipation of this next release. What will it bring? I don’t know, but I expect it will be amazing.