Woods of Desolation
As The Stars
The mere fact that black metal has been subject to experimentation for the last few years means that we can simply no longer judge such records by their supposed originality. Nonetheless, ‘depressive’ black metal has produced some stunning records of late and Wollongong’s Woods of Desolation are no different. The Australians return here on third album ‘As The Stars without Tim Yatras, whose vision it was that helped make ‘Torn Beyond Reason‘ such a supreme record, but the man known only as ‘D.’, the sole founding member, has a new ensemble around him who prove just as effective. Key to their success is that they don’t drag things out. No gazing for too long, and no reliance on the blastbeat – their drummer is remarkably controlled behind the kit, and their vocalist’s howls of agony compliment the ethereal sounds. They always seem to get it right, and the variety between tracks is subtle but nonetheless pleasing on the ear. So many moments to choose from – the closing section of ‘This Autumn Light’ mires in transcendence along a deceptively positive riff; while ‘Withering Field’ is excellently paced through its first four minutes, dropping a couple of tasty grooves into the din before the song moves into an explosive blast at the end. From first second to last, ‘As The Stars‘ justifies the hype placed on it by various metal blogs, soaked in atmosphere, depression and sheer majesty, and composed superbly from top to bottom – the year’s first seminal record.