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Stream: Woods of Desolation’s “This Autumn Light”

***Apparently a pirated copy of As the Stars has made its way to iTunes. Woods of Desolation and Northern Silence have asked that anyone wishing to purchase a digital copy do so from the WoD Bandcamp.***

It isn’t fair that Woods of Desolation aren’t one of the bigger black metal bands out there today, because they’re certainly one of the best. Maybe the relatively moderate success is due to the fact that the Australian band, whose main member simply goes by “D.”, has never played live and doesn’t seem too motivated to do so, so no chance of catching Woods of Desolation on a bill with another band you came to see. Maybe it’s because Australia is so far away, and finding Woods of Desolation releases required some effort in the past. Yeah, maybe it’s because not enough people have ever even heard Woods of Desolation. To me, it’s the only explanation, because I don’t think anybody can listen to this band without becoming a fan.

Woods of Desolation’s last album, Torn Beyond Reason (the band’s cleanest sounding album to date, considering that the forthcoming As The Stars looks to return somewhat to the band’s rawer origins) was my record of the year when it came out in 2011. I listened to that album, which was recorded in Australia and sounded like it came from somewhere much colder and darker, underneath New York City on subway trains from Harlem to downtown. It was one of those soundtrack albums that just took over a period of my life. It cracked the IO year-end list at 21 (that’s just one spot ahead of Liturgy’s Aesthetica) and I still feel like it got robbed. What’s even more of a bummer is that that year end list showing was the first time Woods of Desolation had ever even been mentioned on Invisible Oranges. That’s about to change, as we’re marking our IO calendar for February 14, 2014, when the new WoD album As The Stars is scheduled to be released on the inimitable Northern Silence Productions. (I should mention that songs off of Torn Beyond Reason have been on heavy rotation on the Invisible Oranges on East Village Radio show after the album won over some of my esteemed co-hosts.)

Here we have the first single off of As The Stars, a gorgeous, melancholic and epic atmospheric beauty that is as catchy as it is cold. “This Autumn Light” has a strong depressive element running through it—Woods of Desolation deals with the darker emotions of crushing loneliness, anguish and utter despair, but pairs those DBM roots with big, triumphant melodies. The guitars are miles deep, layered so thick they’re inundating, but they’re also shimmeringly bright. When this song comes in, with double kicks, those guitars, and a hypnotic plucked melody that surfs just on top of everything else, it’s one of the more satisfying listens of the year. Put the headphones on for this one.

D. has made a habit of bringing in a rotating cast of guests to fill out his lineup when recording, and for this album he’s got Vlad from Drudkh and Old Silver Key on drums and Old from Drohtnung on vocals, who brings a throatier scream to the mix than Tim of Germ (who just released a killer album) and Austere provided on Torn Beyond Reason, a performance which, I should add, was superb. Metal Archives would have us believe D. brought in Balam from Drowning the Light on bass, too, to round out a bit of an Austrailian underground all-star lineup.

Listen to “This Autumn Light”, and, for good measure, “Torn Beyond Reason”, below. For once, Valentine’s day can’t come soon enough.

— Wyatt Marshall

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