Sound — 5
When the time came to listen to "Woods III: Deepest Roots And Darkest Blues" I wasn't sure what to expect. What I found left me with mixed impressions. We're mainly dealing with black metal here, though there's some use of pianos and synth orchestration running along with the music most of the time. The production is traditionally reasonably lo-fi and it puts a gritty impression on the album, which in my opinion suits the music most of the time. There are slower tempo-songs to be found here as well, and acoustic guitars have been used (mostly in the later half of the album). Like with most black metal it's more about the mood and atmosphere than the individual songs.
Lyrics — 5
"Woods III" is dark and melancholic. The lyrics on the record are about loneliness and nature, about black metal and having/needing the strength to try to live your dreams. Most of the words speak of depression and the search for identity and finding it through the philosophy of black metal. Vocal-wise the clean vocals are weak (as in, performed without strength) and often a bit off-pitch. David Gold's growls on the other hand do the job nicely and without being overly technical the fry vocals still sound good. The lower register which would be used on later releases is absent here apart from a few exceptions and it's a bit of a disappointment coming from the later material to the earlier. The clean vocal delivery is a hindrance to the materials potential, and I find this to be most true on "End Of Tradition". Better vocals would have made that song in particular really shine.
Overall Impression — 6
I consider myself a fan of innovative black metal overall, but I think this album builds a cage around itself musically. What "Woods III" is lacking in is musical variation, and too much of the same thing can get a bit boring at times. Overall I think most of the songs are well-written, but they don't stand out enough by themselves to give a lasting impression. As a whole record it's reasonably solid, but it has few memorable moments. Apart from said song "End Of Tradition" the songs to look out for are "The Northern Cold", "Through Chaos And Solitude I Came..." and finally the instrumental track "Trillium: The First Of Three Winters 2004-2007". My final judgment is that this record would have benefitted greatly from being shorter or more varied, but as Gold writes with great and admirable intention "...modern music is self-indulgent, we have always done it for ourselves."