WOODS OF YPRES – Woods V: Grey Skies and Electric Light CD Review
ARTIST: Woods of Ypres
TITLE: Grey Skies and Electric Light
LABEL: Earache Records
REVIEWED BY: John Roach
I would like to start this review by talking a bit about the passing of the man who was influential to the Canadian metal community and to those who have heard his music. David Gold, the lead singer/ songwriter/ vocalist of Woods of Ypres, passed away in a car accident on December 22nd, 2011 just outside of Barrie, Ontario. I had the chance to meet him during a show at the Foxx Lounge in Barrie this past summer as they were trying to raise $666 for their Visas while promoting Woods IV: The Green album. The amount of depth and emotion that you experience during a live Woods of Ypres show is very hard to describe. I went in not knowing of what this band would sound like or that I’d walk out with a signed CD and t-shirt. With the release of Woods V: Grey Skies and Electric Light just around the New Year corner, I jumped on the chance to lend an ear and review the thing. I had listened and started my review but found myself having to start again. The whole message of the album, dealing with life and death, really strikes home now. Hearing the low haunting vocals of David singing/ screaming as if from the grave is almost too crazy but it adds this coldness to the album and contorts whatever the album sounded like when he was alive. I would like to express my condolences to the friends, fans, and family of David Gold.
Metal in general comes in such a vast collection of different shapes and sizes that it’s hard to digest it all as one huge mass to listen to. We tend to break down bands into a subgenre that best suits them as soon as we hear them. To me, Woods of Ypres is without a shadow of a doubt a “Doom Metal” band, but not strictly just that. This band is yet another band I’ve come across on my musical travels to build upon the subgenre they are in and by doing so creating a unique sound of their own. Nine years of playing and writing is a fairly long time for a band to evolve a sound and this latest release is a whole new evolution on itself without diverting too far off the path. The introduction of soft strings, synth, and clarinet parts in songs like “Traveling Alone” and “Adora Vivos” add this new atmosphere to the Doom and Gloom. This meshes with the musical arrangements and low vocal range of David Gold perfectly.
Speaking of low vocal range, David must have recorded some of these tracks right after waking up for the day. The notes this man could hit were astounding. The boldness and strength in the vocals accompanies the whole mix to create that rich Woods of Ypres sound. The trademark “Doom Metal” moments do come but not as often as you would think. On this record, I found the screaming to be used more for an accent or a real driving point of a song, “Lightning and Snow” for example. Musically, the album is full of a wide range of different instruments as mentioned earlier. Adding a real symphonic quality to the whole thing which I quite enjoyed and I feel that without these parts the songs wouldn’t be as emotionally impacted or powerful. If you’ve read any of my past reviews, you’ll know that I’m a HUGE fan of a bold/ thick sounding band. Not that I’m after a wall of notes every time I plug in ye olde headphones but it’s just that right amount of depth and layering I really appreciate in music. Woods of Ypres delivers and satisfies that appetite I have.
Woods V: Grey Skies and Electric Light is a must buy for Doom/ Symphonic/ Folk/ Melodic Death/ Gothic Metal fans. If you fall into even one of those subgenres then you’ll find something here for your teeth to sink into. Would I still be recommending this record as profusely even if David Gold hadn’t passed away? Fuck yes I would because this is a collection of strong/ powerful music regardless of the fact. This is an album to add to your collection in the New Year!
(Not official track order)
01. Career Suicide (Is Not Real Suicide)
02. Travelling Alone
03. Alternate Ending
04. Lightning & Snow
06. Death Is Not An Exit
07. Adora Vivos
09. Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye) Part 1
10. Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye) Part 2
11. Modern Life Architecture