Sound — 7
"Pursuit Of The Sun & Allure Of The Earth" is Woods Of Ypres second release and their first full-length album. It consists of ten songs that span over an hour of progressive black/doom metal. Like with most of WoY's catalogue it's more about the disc than the individual songs. There's a certain mood on this record that is created by a great use of an acoustic guitar (played by Steve Jones or David Gold who both did guitar work in the group at this time) in the background of the music. It creates a pillar of calm in the midst of the chaos which is very appealing and musically interesting. Production-wise I like that the instruments aren't hidden in the mix. The bass (played by Connor Sharpe) provides great lines, sounds very good and shines through when it needs to and said acoustic guitar doesn't drown in the sound of the distorted guitars and drums. There's also an orchestrating keyboard (played by Jessica Rose) apparent in places which adds contrast to the roughness of the distortion.
Lyrics — 5
The vocal performance on this record is uneven to say the least. Some vocal parts are a joy to listen to while some others sound nasally, boring and very off-pitch (especially the higher register often suffers from this). The growls hold up nicely. The primary problem as I see it is that the lyrics are three times as long as they should be, which means that the melodies become forced to fit in the excess lyrics. What I like about the vocals are the vocal layers (especially taking place in "Outro: The End Of August," performed by Sarah Green) and that there's some trace of singer David Golds lower register here and there (mainly talking). As a wise man once told me "in concentration is where you find the master." These lyrics keep adding more and more until it becomes confusing and at times they feel very mundane, immature and unappealing. That said there are very good thoughts and lines in the lyrics and where they shine the brightest they're incredible. For example the first song starts off with a long, pretty dull description of how dust begins to move in a room and suddenly the almost magical lines "It so quietly swarms and hangs in the air. It shines in the light and makes me aware. Death is looming in here and it's getting to you. Under dust, over time it has been burying you." This turn from simply being mundane to getting poetic insight is a great twist and is present in some songs but certainly not in all of them.
Overall Impression — 7
All in all I think this record is quite better than decent. It's a nice change of pace coming from "Woods III" which is more strictly black metal than "Woods II." I like that the record is varied and that it holds many musical surprises. Most of the songs presence on the track list seem well motivated and over all the record is well written. The acoustic guitar and the bass are the stars of the show on this record for me, while the vocals and lyrics disappoint and feel forced at times. I would have liked to have the vocals hold back, giving some room for instrumental sections that I think are too few and far between. As for songs most of them are worth listening to. There's both rawness and beauty aplenty on the ten tracks of the album. "The Will To Give" and "Allure Of The Earth" are good places to start just to get a feel of the different components of the sound, but I can't point out any songs as being the stronger ones. The most interesting of the songs is "Dragged Across A Forest Floor" which starts off as a black metal song, continues with a very calm part and ends with a rhythmical chaotic outrage. The variation within the song fits the nine-minute-length very well.