Sound — 7
This is a record that takes time. To start with it clocks in at 78 minutes, which in itself is saying a lot. The 16 songs themselves are written in a fashion that make them hard to appreciate after a first listen, partly because there are constantly more dissonant, slow riffs around the corner. However, given some time this album really grows, and not only into a riff-fest but into something one can feel more emotionally connected to. The best word to describe this album is "raw". The material feels deliberately unpolished. Everything stands out in the mix and the songwriting builds on pretty basic riffs. It's dissonant, dirty, and noisy but the clarity of a heavy rhythm section holds everything together nicely. If your favourite albums are more about the hit songs than the record as a whole you're most likely not going to care very much for this record should you decide to listen to it. If you're the type that doesn't think that hits are important to make an album good you're more likely to take a liking to "Woods IV" and should give it a spin.
Lyrics — 5
I once again feel like everything has been left intentionally unpolished. The lyrics are often written in a very ugly and crude way with no real need for contemplation, and when they try to be poetic they run through every sad love song clich you could possibly think of. In many instances it feels awkward, but I ask myself if this doesn't fit in with the theme for the album. Nearly all the songs focus on getting over a bad breakup with a lover, and the heaviness of that feeling is rough and unpolished indeed. There's a certain degree of depressive insanity lurking about on this record and it feels like the lyrics have been written down without much contemplation, just putting the first thing to come to (a sick, depressed) mind on the paper. I think the intention was to make it feel honest and true and while it didn't fail completely it isn't a success either. I do see the point of it, but can't find it very appealing personally. Towards the end of the record the lyrics suddenly take a different turn with black metal-themes emerging only to be replaced by a depressive "love-ballad" at the very last minute.
Overall Impression — 7
It's hard to find something that compares to this record without resorting to underground black metal, but if I was to compare this record to anything well-known it would be Savatage. It holds some of the same dissonance but takes it much further. As with "Woods 5" I'm also reminded by the singer/songwriter approach of 40 Watt Sun/Warning. My own personal favourite tracks from the album are "I Was Buried In Mount Pleasant Cemetery" and "Mirror Reflection & The Hammer Reinvention" (which features a great part played on kongas). Despite all my criticism this isn't a bad record. Like I said from the start it's one that takes time to appreciate, but looking back it's been worth the dozen spins it took me to start liking it. The way the vocals move between cleans and growls work very effectively and while the lyrics don't always hold up the almost primal song writing definitely holds a certain strange appeal that will keep me listening to this record for a long time to come.