Of Mice And Men
The Mo Club, Southampton, UK - 16/4
Written by: EW on 27/09/2012 10:15:11
If I hadn't known better, the opening acoustic chords and warm crackling fire which open "Curse" would have alone told me that I was in for a ride of majestical, sweeping, organic and powerful black metal from the UK's own Wodensthrone, but as a frequent listener to their stunning debut album "Loss" from 2009 there really was no other way this could be. From soaring BM riffs which recall Irish masters Primordial, an earthly spirit borrowed from Negura Bunget and a sense of British pride not unlike brothers-in-arms Winterfylleth, what Wodensthrone create with these influences should offer no excuse for muted appreciation from existing fans of pagan and religious black metal acts of the likes of Bunget to Watain as well as having the sort of self-awareness which should pull in a few outsiders to the club.
Woven into songs averaging 9+ minutes in length, Wodensthrone display an expertise in utilising the symphonic capabilities of their keyboards as a subtle backing to the lethal riffs which set apart the likes of "First Light", "The Great Darkness", "The Storm" and "The Name of the Wind" from what you'll find most other BM acts can offer. For the most part the band hammer along at a fervent speed, offering no delusions to them being an outright black metal band at their core, but to label them as one-dimensional blasters would be mis-leading. The soaring first seven minutes of "First Light"'s eleven build gradually to a crescendo which peaks in it's latter stages. First song proper "Jormungandr" begins in traditional black metal fare until ambient textures intervene midway through. "Battle Lines" is a slowly building epic where Wodensthrone's habit of melding spitting BM rhythms with more angular riffs gives something different to identify in the songs more muscular moments. "Wyrgthu"'s lead riff is more Winterfylleth (for any devout fans of that equally great act) and more melodic in nature, with the harsh vocals sounding more impressive here than at any other point in the album.
The shortest of all the proper tracks at a hefty 6 minutes, "The Storm" befits its name as the most frantic of the lot before "The Name of the Wind" closes out with the kind of riffs Primordial would be proud to call their own. In its entirety the production on "Curse" is exceptional; the darkness of the tone, not just from keyboards but in all guitars and vocals, is mesmerising and superbly balanced. At 68 minutes "Curse" is no easy listen but it goes to show that when its myriad sub-genres are ignored, black metal is as relevant as ever when records like this continue to emerge from the deep, passionate underground.
Download: First Light, The Great Darkness
For The Fans Of: Winterfylleth, Primordial, Negura Bunget
Release date: 23.04.2012