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Humanity’s “Love Exchange Failure” is White Ward’s Black Metal Canvas

love exchange failure

Welcome to the future, where self-image trumps all other considerations, winning is everything, and truth is just whatever. Tune in: social media platforms are algorithmic money-making machines whose exhaust is human hatred. Tune out: society’s atmosphere has become stained with the tars of fear and repulsion, the smog of willful ignorance, and the pollution of carelessness. Tune anywhere: it doesn’t matter, wherever you look, whichever esoteric crevice of society you decide to investigate, there are tornadoes of conflict and torrents of hate and cyclones of vile vitriol. It’s not like we purposefully extinguished love; rather, we mechanically dissected its vital organs alive as it screamed in absolute fucking horror while nobody could do anything about it but watch, eyes stinted open.

The “Love Exchange Machine” has failed, the antithesis to the real machinery of the now and the future, the loser in the battle for humanity’s future. White Ward titled their sophomore release appropriately: the black metal it comprises is aggressively somber, angry and bleak but aware of its own helplessness. It is ceaseless in movement but static in mood, ever-shifting but permanently destined toward a drowning death. It is the black metal of now, but also the black metal of the future, because right now the two are one of the same as we converge on an era of conflict and death like none other before it.

If we’re going down — if this is really the dystopian beginning of a dystopian end– then “Love Exchange Failure” is what I want blasting at full goddamn volume as the void swallows eternity whole. Here’s a full stream before the album’s official release.

Beyond the black metal, so to speak, White Ward’s infusion of saxophone imbues their music with the type of sad beauty only something like brass can produce. Then, the structuring of “Love Exchange Failure” — with various interludes and moments of pause and ambiance — keeps the album dynamic, but does nothing to page-break the storyline. In fact, “Love Exchange Failure” almost makes no sense deconstructed; it must be consumed whole and at once. For such an ephemeral world we live in, possessing an album which thoroughly requires listening is like having a chalice of healing. Within that chalice, of course, is love itself, the impulse to give rather than take, to create rather than destroy, and to hope rather than fear.

Maybe the best parts of “Love Exchange Failure” are its slowest, as jazzy beats undergird gentle saxophone playing at gentle tempos. These moments are relaxing, actually, or numbing if you really think about it. They’re like a warm death blanket; the blasting black metal is the hammering of nails into our collective coffin. The saxophone kisses us goodbye with the moist finality of authenticity as all that is real dies and all that is fake takes over. White Ward teaches us that mechanized hate leads only to untruth; expression, i.e. all artwork, is the only weapon we have. If disarmed, then this music becomes mere catharsis. I’ll still take it a hundred times over.

Love Exchange Failure releases September 20th via Debemur Morti.

white ward
Photo credit: Alinele Grotesque Photography

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