Sound — 9
Woods Of Ypres was a Canadian blackened doom metal band which was active between 2002 and 2012. Following the death of lead singer David Gold December 21st 2011 the band decided to disband, which isn't surprising as the back catalogue of WoY shows a panorama of past members with David Gold at the heart of every constellation. This means that this is the final work of Woods Of Ypres, and what do I have to say about it all in all? Excellent work. The sound on this album is rich and organic. The guitars are powerful and gritty enough, the bass stands out enough in the mix, the drums are fine and the vocals are beautifully layered. Pianos, a flute (or a clarinet?) and strings lift the sound to even further heights. The only thing I could have wished for would be that the low drums would stand out slightly more sometimes. It feels like it was a conscious decision to keep them a bit lower though, and it does sound more mature this way. Mature is a good word to describe the overall sound as well. The compositions are kept simple yet effectful and the album has a singer/songwriter-wibe to it. Compared to other, previous albums this is more mellow and with less emphasis on the black metal-parts and harsh fry vocals. David Gold gets to show his range from the really low-end up to some reasonably high notes for his register. The vocal style is very impressive.
Lyrics — 10
As for the lyrical content on this album it is astounding. Lyrically it's one of the strongest albums I've come across in recent years. I detect a theme throughout the album How to make the most of life living in modern society. The album doesn't necessarily hold an answer, but it's filled with Gold's ponderings about how society shapes our view of what we SHOULD be, where gods non-existence and the absence of an afterlife leaves us (should we hope or not?) and how we can relate to our own failures in life, our mortality and those who're already dead. Once again this is all done in a very mature way. In no way is this a competition for who's had the roughest life, as Gold describes it: "I can be thankful to be alive, but I despise this life" and "But when I look around you I understand why YOU believe. I see your evidence of god all around me". It is obviously intended as an introspection but lets people of other views than Gold get a voice and I think it's so powerful because it's so honest and truth-seeking. I can understand David's views and emotions, after all they are something we can all relate to. Nobody fits in perfectly in society and it's probably a big source of loneliness (or at least the feeling of it) for many people. I especially like the part "We are all expendable and we can be replaced. They have supplies of infinite lives and no time to waste. But we have only one life to live, one time to exist and though there is no afterlife there's still more to life than this".
Overall Impression — 9
There's nothing I would change about this album composition-wise if I could have written it myself. I think this is close to perfection. The only thing I can say that is mildly critical is that some of the songs hold up better than others in the long run and some fans might miss the emphasis on black metal which was present before. It's still there, but it's now toned down. As for songs it's impossible to select one. There are 11 songs on the album and I think 10 of them are absolutely incredible (and I didn't dislike the remaining song either). The music reminded me of some other artists as well. Novembers Doom is definitely one of them. The string section in "Adora Vivos" reminded me of Apocalyptica and the singer/songwriter approach is reminiscent of Warning/40 Watt Sun. Perhaps not the music itself, but the view of what should serve as the base for the music. As for the grade of the music it's really hard for me as I don't believe in grading this album. I think that either you get it or you don't, because you can't complain about the production, the lyrical content or the song quality. In that sense this is a perfect ten. For me personally I would perhaps have had a more prominent bass drum and I would have excluded the song I didn't like as much as the other 10, but that's just personal taste. I'm not above my taste though, and therefor I will give this a nine.