One of the most fulfilling aspects of listening to music, for review or otherwise, is to discover glorious works that both surprise and uplift, that they are unexpected only heightens the pleasure in the finding. “Loss” is a début that compels and enthrals in equal measure, let me tell you why.
WODENSTHRONE's previous works hinted at what they were capable of but the involvement demanded from this epic means that you will be totally absorbed into the world they create. Each track here is a chapter in a story and the telling is sumptuous, you are drawn in and hang on to every phrase, avidly listening for the next twist or turn, the recounting drips with drama and the emotional aspect of it intensifies the experience, there are no holds barred when it comes to showing sentiment. Like the best tales though, there's nothing contrived, there's an honesty and though rich, the arrangement is uncomplicated, ensuring there is no clutter preventing total immersion.
This is Black Metal that allows a high degree of accessibility without losing its extreme mantle, for every letting loose of a rattling volley of Black Metal, there is an accompanying swathe of expansive keyboards that bring a late Summer's warmth to the wash of guitar. The two actually prove complimentary as the guitar tone is imbued with the subtle hearth glow that you may find with other camp fire Black Metal bands, whether the flames are adding flicker to a forest clearing or providing heat to cauterise battle wounds is dependant upon the fervour with which WODENSTHRONE play. There's a fullness to the sound, it's almost spongy at times, like a heavy loam, the keyboards tend to add body to the already effusive guitars, and they do so in a soothing tone, suggesting in reassuring fashion that the nasty guitar is really your friend.
Despite the depth, “Loss” avoids sounding congested, the picked guitars clear a path ensuring the rest of the instrumentation can follow a straight route sailing straight in to the listeners ear where it will be eagerly greeted. There's more than a barrel full of frantic pace throughout the album but there is also buckets of respite where something approaching calm develops without losing any of the heightened drama that billows like a standard from the first minute to the last. It is during these relatively more tranquil moments that some of the Folkish elements rear their head, acoustic guitar as well as the sound of whistle and flute poking their head up, alluding to the ancient past that the band take for inspiration. Clarification may be needed here, WODENSTHRONE kick up a racket, don't form the impression that the lush instrumentation removes any of the barb from the wire because “Loss” bares the blade and it ain't just for show.
It is hard to pick out high points from the album as it is basically a plateau of excellence, the composition is virtually flawless, dashes of urgency are soothed to calm at just the right moment and edge is smoothed just before it begins to lose its bite. The instruments effortlessly set the mood and the level of intensity is reinforced by the drumming which can be communicative yet constrained right through to psycho with a sledgehammer, in concert with everything else though, the drums have a rustic earthiness to them, reflecting that in days of yore something like advanced four wheel drive meant smearing goose fat on your cart axles. And that cart will be straining on its axles when bearing the wealth of ideas that WODENSTHRONE weave into this work, there is never a dull moment and considering its generous length, “Loss” seems to finish well before that seventieth minute.
Whilst emphasis rises and falls, the only constant (other than the quality,) is the vocals. Wracked and ruined, they form a wretched lament, harsh and flecked with anguish they're a direct counterpoint to the flourish of the instruments, which, even when verging on stark, still shimmer with splendour. Towards the end of the album, WODENSTHRONE maintain the momentum but reduce the velocities and whilst I prefer albums to end with a bang, I'm more than content to be carried along by the more anthemic elements that bring the listener down from the heady heights that were traversed throughout the rest of “Loss.” Hopefully my pulse rate will now return to normal.
It's clear that these songs have been crafted, the band present “Loss” as their apprentice's masterpiece, from here on in they can rightfully claim to be adepts in their field. From out of nowhere WODENSTHRONE come to steal the crown.
(Online November 16, 2009)