Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Wodensthrone - "Curse" (2012) [Candlelight Records/Dark Descent Records]

Wodensthrone and I go way back. It seems like only yesterday my friends and I would regularly jam their split with Niroth (remember them?). They really fit my taste back then: epic, folk-laden atmospheres, an obsession with Norse paganism (since abandoned for heritage-friendly Anglo-Saxonry), and one of those ever-present Christoph Szpajdel logos. Wodensthrone had achieved everything I had wanted to do with my own project at the time (we're on MySpace somewhere), and, to me, they were gods. I fell out of the "pagan metal" scene after I went to college, so I didn't quite connect with their Loss full-length debut like I did with their previous albums, but I deemed it a solid release, albeit one I didn't listen to super often. When I heard Wodensthrone were returning with a new album, I was reminded of those times when I thought nature was awesome in a reverent way, when things were much less complicated, and when my hair was super long.

Curse is...a different album. In a good way. I was expecting an album which would fill me with high school nostalgia in the same way overhearing a Wolves in the Throne Room album over the PA between sets at a concert would: a superficial look into the past and nothing more, and yet Wodensthrone's new album is so much more than that. Curse takes Wodensthrone's older, folk-dominated approach to black metal and balances the scale, adding a good amount of scathing aggression as a means of counteracting and emphasizing their excellently composed "melodic" sections. With this balanced approached comes a wider range of sound, which Wodensthrone happily embraces. What was once boxed in by melody-and-harmony dictated constructs has the freedom to be ugly, which can be the case for some of the more traditional black metal sections found on Curse. Of course, this freedom doesn't just mean the usage black metal and folk anymore, as Curse features some very tasteful '70s progressive rock-inspired sections, much like the short clean guitar solo section in "Jormungandr." The clarity of this new album is also something to behold; rather than the hazy, synthesizer-drenched sound of Loss, Curse has a much cleaner approach, giving way to denser guitar tone and pummeling drums (a complaint I had concerning Loss).

Wodensthrone's Curse is one of the great new black metal albums, and is a testament to the band's evolution over the years. A band which has truly come into its own, Wodensthrone managed to take their old sound and only add to it while still keeping their identity in a tasteful, convincing fashion. It a neat feeling to revisit an aspect of one's past to see it's grown up, too, and Wodensthrone certainly has. Curse is available on compact disc from Candlelight Records and as a gorgeous double LP from Dark Descent.


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