Welcome to Throwback Thursday. This is the place where we get to indulge in nostalgia and wax poetic about excellent metal of years past. Today's 78th TBT is a difficult one to write. This week, this writer's hometown was the cite of an all-too-familiar American tragedy. The epicenter of Dayton, Ohio was the scene for a mass shooting. 9 people lost their lives, and 27 more were injured. Since Sunday, my world has been vacillating in and out of strange states; I've been feeling everything from grief and shock to hope and righteousness as the city moves on. In the days since, Daytonians have been unafraid to occupy the very streets the murders took place to honor the fallen. Dayton is sending a strong message to the world: There's more far more of us who love, and those who've passed will not be forgotten.
Those who've passed may be gone, but they'll never be forgotten. While many bands have seen the tragic and untimely loss of a band mate, during this time of reflection I am drawn to the story and the music of Woods of Ypres. The somber beauty of Woods V: Grey Skies & Electric Light has in this time been a great source of catharsis.
The record is gorgeous. It captures the most some of the most riveting and dynamic musicianship the band ever created. Woods V: Grey Skies & Electric Light was released in the Fall of 2011, with equal song writing and tracking time from David Gold and newer Woods of Ypres pianist and guitarist Joel Violette. Two months after the album's release, David Gold, the only consistent member of Woods Of Ypres throughout history of the band's tumultuous lineup, was killed in a car accident. According to an archived letter of response from Earache Records to reporter and metal lover Chris Schneck, "Our thoughts go out to all those affected by David Gold's tragic death on Dec 21st 2011- his family, friends, bandmates, and fans have all been devastated by the news, but it has been reassuring to watch the metal community worldwide rally round and show support. To be honest, it still doesn't seem real, feelings are raw." After last Sunday, I can relate to that sentiment.
Woods V: Grey Skies & Electric Light is a breathtaking record. The deep, hypnotic vocals of David Gold act as veins for the body of the album. They breathe a sullen yet expressive mood into the tracks as each other piece of the band plays off them at a more heightened, intricate, and melodic level. Higher octave, clean vocals are used sporadically throughout Woods V to an ominous and full effect, highlighting the depth and vitality of Gold's bass-y voice. Check out album opener "Lightening & Snow":
The lyrics on Woods V: Grey Skies & Electric Light are notable because of the enunciation and emphasis on almost each and every word. The clean vocals take their time at a slower pace, and in part drive the pacing of the entire record. Check out song "Traveling Alone":
Woods V: Grey Skies & Electric Light is an evolved extension of Woods IV: The Green Album. While Woods IV serves as more of a vulnerable snap-shot and diary entry, Woods V pushes ahead with hope, grit, and determination. That evolution wasn't lost on the music world, as Woods V: Grey Skies & Electric Light was nominated for, and subsequently won, Best Metal Album of the Year from Canada's Juno awards. Tracks like "Adora Vivos" make it easy to see how Woods Of Ypres and Woods V: Grey Skies & Electric Light won:
Unbeknownst to Gold he penned these chilling and prophetic lyrics in"Adora Vivos": "The dead are to be forgotten, but we are to be adored"; "Love me in the flesh, don't wait 'till death to sing my praise".
During their working years, Woods of Ypres did receive their fair share of praise, garnering an high album score here at Metal Injection. We also called their 2004 album Pursuit Of The Sun And Allure Of The Earth an essential album that changed the face of modern black metal.
Woods of Ypres went on tour early 2011 promoting Woods IV. The band wasn't shy about making vlogs, and they made a charming shaky-cam, three-part tour series that gives an insight to some of the humbling trials a touring band must suffer:
The lyrics from "Adora Vivos" are clearly meant to urge each of us to live in the moment, and to take the opportunity to appreciate what we have while we have it. While the band has been defunct since Gold's death, they are remembered fondly if no where else, here on today's TBT. If you are suffering from the bitter sting of loss, try listening to Woods V: Grey Skies & Electric Light to remember fondly those we've lost and to live each moment with gratitude.