1. Career Suicide (Is Not Real Suicide)
2. Travelling Alone
3. Alternate Ending
4. Lightning & Snow
6. Death Is Not An Exit
7. Adora Vivos
9. Modern Life Architecture
10. Kiss My Ashes Goodbye (Part I)
11. Kiss My Ashes Goodbye (Part II)
I’m going to begin this review with the notes that were found within the promo. Canada’s WOODS OF YPRES push their haunted brand of bleak metal into new dimensions of tortured gloom. ‘Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light‘ defines the sound the band have been striving for, marrying downbeat doom rock with catchy melody and hooky choruses into a sound that promises hope on one hand and delivers desolation on the other. Band mastermind David Gold delivers his dry Nick Cave-esque lyrical approach with a rumbling, rich baritone offset with a heartfelt ‘regular’ vocal, laying his soul bare on tracks such as ‘Career Suicide (Is Not A Real Suicide)‘ or the frail ‘Finality‘. With a rich production courtesy of John Fryer (Depeche Mode, NIN, White Zombie, HIM), the lush orchestration sets the emotions on edge in songs such as ‘Traveling Alone‘ or ‘Death Is Not An Exit‘. Woods of Ypres manage to make music that sounds catchy and upbeat, while crushing hearts at the same time, producing a dangerously addictive combination of self depreciation and eternal hope making ‘Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light‘ a dark curse for those who dare to dream.
More after the jump.
First thing is first though. RIP David Gold. A moment of silence for him but not one moment more.
Woods V was incredibly hard for me to listen to at first. Not because it’s a terrible album or anything like that. Far from it. It’s because of the circumstances of the situation that has happened to David. This album gets dark and deep, just like Woods IV did. However, this time around it just feels incredibly ominous and eerie. Lyrically the songs are genius but are also haunting. Production is clear and the songs are catchy again. Some songs are incredibly upbeat and some are very true to WoY’s doom form.
Beginning with “Career Suicide (Is Not Real Suicide)“, the album kicks off quickly with a song that is very similar to their previous hit, “Wet Leather“. The song is incredibly catchy but I tend to skip this one. Besides the vocals, I find the music quite boring. It’s very plain and repetitive. To me the album truly begins with the next track: Travelling Alone. Even though the track has a typo in it, it’s one of my personal favorites of the album. Lyrics you can’t help but sing along to and composition and writing that is more than your usual Ypres song. “Alternate Ending” is one of the tracks I truly love off of this new album. I love the piano that is featured on this track. This track has choked me up a few times while listening to it. The song is just incredibly sad and it makes it worse with David gone. It also features one of the best doom breakdowns on the album around 1:48. I was waiting for the “whoa” chants to make a comeback at this time but instead of dragging on the song it goes right into the next verse. Alternate Ending is one of the shortest tracks on the album but it seems longer than it really is due to how slow it is. Gold’s vocals and lyrics are deep and depressing and the way the track ends is truly a tearjerker.
“Lightning & Snow” starts of quite progressively and then goes into one monstrous roar from Gold. One thing I notice right off of the bat the Depeche Mode-esque drum beat during the verses. I like it and it almost doesn’t fit, yet it works and gives the song character. The song isn’t as depressing as the other songs and the guitar riffs are quite hopeful in a weird way. The ending of the song is incredibly strong with layered vocals and fast drumming. “Finality” is very calm and consists of only a piano and a drum beat throughout most of the song until the 1:39 mark when Gold starts a chant and the cello’s kick in. Very misanthropic and romantic at the same time. “Death Is Not An Exit” kicks off with the album title being sung out and lyrics preaching: “So life is precious, after all. Respect the body, for it is all you really are.” It’s probably the most optimistic song of the album. Even though it’s not exactly all rays of sunshine and butterflies, the mood of the track lighter than the rest of the album and it teaches you to appreciate life. The song has a real HIM vibe to it as well.
Who put this NIN track on my Woods of Ypres cd? Oh, now it’s all fast and thrashy! It’s now back to some rockin Ypres. “Adora Vivos” starts off weird but is actually a great track. There are so many genres happening in this one song it’s hard to even place it in anything specific. This track has a repeat lyric “In The bleak life and modern times, Under grey skies and electric light.” which is the continuing theme of the album, not to mention the title. This song is just exciting! Lyrically, this one is really good as well. “Love me, in the flesh, don’t wait ‘till death to sing my praise“.
The next track even breaks my heart. “Silver” is a tale about being left behind while your significant other chooses someone else. Any fan of WoY knows the loss and pain of David and his struggle with a past relationship. The song really makes you feel the pain and loss as if you experienced them yourself. At the 3:45 mark the song changes pace a little and I’m neither here nor there on whether or not I like it. Regardless, the songs lyrics and music are done carefully and are masterful. “Modern Life Architecture” has some groove riffs and a piano opening the track for us. This song has a great mix of doom/sludge riffs with a touch of class. The piano once again makes the song special and David’s ultra low baritone voice makes the song even more sorrowful. This track is yet another song that tells the singer’s struggle with recovery and dealing with loss.
The last two tracks share the same name but is just broken up into two parts. “Kiss My Ashes Goodbye (Part I)” is the more rockin’ half of the tracks. Part II has a slower pace and Peter Steele himself would be proud. The singing on this track is phenomenal and I love the chants/doom riffs and cello combination. It’s the perfect ending to a great album.
Grey Skies & Electric Light is an emotional roller coaster filled with intense singing, song writing and some amazing additional work with the cello/flutes/pianos. The album is vibrant and yet so dark and chilling. It features some soul shaking guitar solos and piano work from Joel Violette and some of the best vocal work David Gold has ever done. You will not be disappointed and this album is definitely fulfilling. Grey Skies & Electric Light is full of sorrow, misery, gloom, depression and death. It makes you think and it appreciate the little things. Not only does it make you use your head, it’s very enjoyable metal. Things change up so often that it keeps the songs fresh and interesting. It’s not like previous releases at all, Woods V is an entirely new beast.
Pros: Production, song writing and composition, vocals, meaningful songs, depressing songs
Cons: Only one “meh” song on the entire album.
4.5 out of 5
Fav tracks: Travelling Alone, Alternate Ending, Finality, Death Is Not An Exit, Adora Vivos, Silver, Kiss My Ashes Goodbye (Part II)