“The Name of the Wind” is one of the most haunting, moving pieces of music I have experienced of late. It starts with a heartbreaking alternative-rock mood that subconsciously reminds me of my cherished Doves, sweeping me into the classic English northern landscape, then slides into Fen’s bleak majesty by summoning the mesmerizing power of the mythical; then it morphs into Esoteric’s own solemn and mournful cosmic drama (Greg Chandler is indeed the album’s masterful producer, and he DID make the difference), only to dissolve into ghostly chimes rattled by unforgiving winds transcending locality to embrace the universal. So although this is still essentially a British piece of sonic-art, local geography and history, as it is often the case with black metal, transcend boundaries to speak to all hearts alike. The geological and anthropological layers we encounter in this track alone are astonishing. Firstly, the trademark emotionally-charged northern rock evokes an era of hopeful melancholy strongly molded into the harshness of the landscape and weather conditions. Then the shift of gear brings forth the Fen/Drudkh emotionally explosive cosmic-black metal mixture of yearning and bleak desperation, evoking the era of loss we are familiar with. And finally, it all winds down – quite prophetically, through a pagan march – into pure apocalyptic misanthropic doom, bringing forth visions of a not so distant final demise. A masterpiece! But this is the 8th and conclusive track of the album. What about the previous seven?…
The intensity of this album is sky-high all the way through, so at first it does feel like a mind-numbing blur, with the final track acting as a vitamin shot after a strenuous physical effort. Further listens with a fresher mind reveal a staggering sequence of complex pieces, each behaving like a soaring wind-whirl that seems to lead the listener to the same place: whatever the lyrics might point to, I invariably find myself on top of the metaphorical mountain screaming at the cosmic winds, or cavalcading an eagle’s back. This is, quite simply, the apotheosis of the Sturm und Drang intensity that has developed from the visceral approach to emotions of black metal: once stemming from a cold, grim, solitary and stoic inner/cosmic landscape, now a thoroughly earthy maelstrom of heroic proportions. Is a relentless outpour of extremely emotional black metal, as if Drudkh and (THE) Negura Bunget were rolled into one lethal soul-shredding turbine, just too much? Well that will depend on the listener’s taste, but the soul-storm that Wodensthrone manage to rise within the listener is definitely of the most intense, relentless and extreme kind, shamelessly redefining the word “epic” in the proceedings! With Curse Wodensthrone manage to break boundaries, creating something that you deeply feel physically as well as psychically: exposing yourself to it becomes a grueling, heroic experience. If I have to single out another couple of tracks, I would say that “The Great Darkness” and “The Storm” are a monstrous rollercoaster that will kill live, again, easily on par with the VERY best fiery Negura (the lads from the north of England have indeed strong ties with the Rumanians, their notable debut “Loss” having been recorded in Timisoara). But the entire album is hefty, unyielding and exceptional, and will blow away all the tempestuous/sensitive souls stirred by the profoundly pagan/mythical approaches of bands like Wolves in the Throne Room, Agalloch, (vintage)Negura Bunget and Drudkh. The latter three have been truly pivotal in giving breath to a mesmerizing and soul-stirring kind of black metal drenched in collective human history: whether the purists like it or not, this is a cultural process very much akin to natural evolution (but the purists are usually not too familiar with Darwin, in spite of devouring Nietzsche!). All there is left now is to wait for one of Wodensthrone’s so far too rare but stunning live performances, as there is no chance that this jaw-dropping new material will leave someone untouched.
Release: April 2011
Avantgenre: Majestic Heathen Black Metal
Origin: Northern England
Official site: None
Review online since: 28.03.2012 / 23:02:28
1.The Remaining Few