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Black Metal History

Essential Listening: WOOD OF YPRES Pursuit Of The Sun And Allure Of The Earth

Woods Of Ypres may very well have changed the history of black metal with this 2004 release.

Woods Of Ypres may very well have changed the history of black metal with this 2004 release.

I would be remiss if I didn't say that Pursuit Of The Sun And Allure Of The Earth changed my life. There was a time in my life when I listened to this record every night before going to bed, and this was perhaps the record that catapulted a 15 year old version of me deep into the bowels of black metal oblivion. I remember being excited for Woods of Ypres to come to Europe in 2012 and being crushed at David Gold's untimely passing. Now, as I grow up when I revisit this album I realize that it stands for something far greater and more significant than that. This was one of the releases that guided black metal into the doom-flecked, artsy powerhouse that it is today. Though the band would go on to create more vivid and powerful music with The Green Album and Grey Skies and Electric Light it's hard not to see that this record, the bands sole truly :black metal: release, as something special, launching the band into rightful cult acclaim.

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In many ways Woods of Ypres are an anomaly. This is a band who folded right before the rise of the social media age, who never had an official Facebook page, and only completed a handful of real tours, and yet I've come across scores of metalheads who absolutely adore their work. The reason for this seems fairly obvious though: Woods Of Ypres is a band who stood for so much more than many of their peers. They got to the heart of black metal by pulling apart the darkest aspects of the genre to represent the inherent bitterness found within. David Gold wrote using grandiose themes of love, tragedy and despair, lending a certain nobility to the human condition. Yet despite the darkness of his music I think that I, along with countless others, was really drawn to the band's ability to instill the music with a measure of hope, to show that no matter how bad it is today, we too could take part in "building a tower of character".

Of course there are more than a few drawbacks to the record: it was after all the band's first full length, and as you listen to the record you can tell that Gold was still learning how to handle his cleans, and even if that adds to the charm it definitely makes the record hard to get into at first. It only hints at the great things that were to come from these Canadian freaks. At times the production feels lacking and it's a little hard to deny that the band is still coming into their own, not quite sure of what exactly they want to do, but apparently confident that they might be on the verge of something special

Few bands communicate the simple horror of existence as well as Woods of Ypres did and the understated glory of their music will reign for years to come. Every song on this record is put together to resonate and the sadness found within is almost existentially terrifying. This is a band who hurt and they communicated that effectively without any of the pretentious bullshit that so often surrounds this kind of music.  As you delve into the discography and start to look into what this album means for the scene it becomes easy to see how this band went on to influence modern acts and shape the direction of the black metal scene for years to come. Yes, there was cerebral black metal that came before this, but Woods of Ypres were perhaps the first band to funnel it so precisely and help to transform black metal into the force it is today.  Pursuit Of The Sun And Allure Of The Earth might very well have been the turning point for black metal.

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