This is hands down one of the most unique black metal records that I have ever heard. As much as some people might bitch about the expansion of the sound, I think the fact that there is a legitimate black metal record out now that perfectly fuses lounge jazz with black metal is insane. White Ward's unique brand of saxophone-driven metal is the sort of thing that most folks have a hard time wrapping their heads around, and for good reason: it's fucking weird! Futility Report is an album that ebbs and flows perfectly, locking in with unique sounds and driving you to check out new and innovative advances in a genre that has been growing by leaps and bounds in recent years. This is a band who have come into the world fully realized, with Futility Report being their first full length and sounding miles better than legions of their peers. Debemur Mori Productions is one of the most exciting labels in the world right now, and it's only labels like them who can dig up shit as good as this.
What's amazing about the jazz-inspired magic of White Ward is that rather than becoming another dumb gimmick they are able to seamlessly fuse their beloved saxophone with more traditional black metal motifs. While at times the record feels a bit sectional, it's sectional a la RIITIIR era Enslaved. The general concept meshes fairly well and the execution is almost always flawless. I think what's most interesting is the band's ability to use jazz concepts for their black metal parts and vice versa. While there certainly aren't a lot of moments that are straight jazz they definitely ease in there, providing a nice contrast to some of the blazing black metal fury. There is a very real sense of torment that provides the backbone of White Ward; it's a sound that comes from years of hard work to produce a record that very few people will truly take the time to enjoy, and the torment of this hellish world. And yet there is still something triumphant and even transcendent about the music on Futility Report. As if even in this crazy old messed up world of ours, there's still a (little) place where we can listen to avant-garde black metal and love every minute of it.
White Ward understand the importance of melody and strong songwriting. They bleed together a variety of fascinating concepts to create a rich sonic landscape that you just want to revel in. While they may not have quite achieved their full potential, and can certainly grow upon their existing ideas, it's stunning to realize how new this band is. As much as I love the Ulver and Agalloch worship though, and as much as I love the willingness to experiment, I think that there is so much more that this can be. White Ward are pushing the boundaries of black metal, growing the instrumentation and encouraging us to keep delving ever deeper to find that ultimate band. Avant-garde but never alienating, this is the sort of group that you can fall in love with, and the sort of group who I think will be making headlines across the glove in a few years. Get on it.