Lossposted on 9/2009 By:
Hype sure can be a bitch. Give that hype to a black metal release, and the band in question has to deliver, lest metal’s most fickle fans permanently label the band as overrated and overhyped. England’s Wodensthrone have accumulated a fair amount of buzz before ever releasing an album, due in part to having amongst their ranks a former member of fellow countrymen Winterfylleth, but mostly because they were taken under the wing of Negura Bunget, who brought them to Romania to record debut record Loss at their studio. Already under a much larger looking glass than they were likely comfortable with, the band had no choice but to deliver.
And boy do they deliver.
On Loss, Wodensthrone weave together eight tracks (at nearly 70 minutes) of bombastic, progressive, and sometimes even trance-like black metal which pulls in influences from the entire reach of all things epic and folk-influenced. They share a bit of Wolves in the Throne Room’s compositional style, Drudkh’s obsessive-yet-unpretentious attention to detail, Weakling’s aggression, Blut Aus Nord’s appropriate use of keyboards, and Negura Bunget’s love of folk instrumentation. Although the influences are obvious, Wodensthrone melds them into their own vision with a sense of songcraft rarely heard in such a young band.
Throughout the album, Wodensthrone use many of black metal’s tried and true weapons to forge songs of a captivating quality. After a typical (but effective) intro, “Leódum On Lande” balances blasts with a standard “True Norwegian” hypnotic drive, using keyboards in a manner which stops short of the symphonic marker. “Heófungtid” then adds to this formula with some of the album’s many fine tremolo passages. The WITTRish “Those That Crush the Roots of Blood” continues with an understated melodic sorrow, hinting at later sections of the album.
As great as Loss begins, the second half is what raises its stock from merely very good to being one of the best black metal albums in recent memory. Flying right out of the previous track, “Black Moss” is a complex epic which features some of the album’s most memorable riffs, shows off the drumming of the extremely capable Hréowsian, and becomes more interesting at every twist and turn despite lasting well over 12 minutes. “Upon These Stones” follows with a high enough caliber to not seem paltry in comparison. With softer folk sections revealing the Negura Bunget influence and an extremely well-placed major key outro, it flows perfectly into the folk instrumental “Pillar of the Sun”, itself transitioning into the breathtaking “That Which is Now Forgotten-597”. This final piece is the album’s most atmospheric and haunting, teasing the aggression of earlier tracks, but ultimately closing the album with an eerie but very satisfying sense of finality.
Perhaps the greatest virtue of Loss is its replay value. Although quite enjoyable upon first listen, only after several spins does the growing intensity of the album (and each song individually) truly become apparent, providing the greatest rewards to listeners with the patience to let the album sink its teeth. This may scare away more attention-deficit fans, but Wodensthrone don’t expect to appeal to everyone, as shown by the album’s limited initial release.
Wodensthrone may be showing up late to the party, but instead of quietly sneaking in, they’re making a grandiose entrance. Loss is an absolute stunner which lives up to its moderate hype and more, while simultaneously introducing another major player to a thriving and multinational scene. If you are distraught by the recent tremors in the Negura Bunget camp, or upset that the good-not-great Black Cascade revealed Wolves in the Throne Room to be mere mortal men, Wodensthrone will stay your tears. Loss is a fantastic entry in what is currently the most fruitful and artistic sub-section of black metal. Very highly recommended.