by Jess Blumensheid

Messy with electronic undertones, Stratification (Profound Lore, 2008) voyages far from conventional black metal. Metal should open itself to expansion, however, allowing Wold's third release for consideration as the black metal album of 2008. Stratification narrates wintertime misery with few "riffs," diffusing rhythms with harsh noise. Like Gnaw Their Tongues and Ildjarn, it runs on crackling fuzz, screams, and wrath.

Stratification speaks through frostbitten lips. Expanding into pure noise, "Stratification" and "Wintertime" hide delicate loops under shrieking metal shards. Each track breaks into a muffled, snow-caped loop; the following tracks suffocate this quaint beauty. "Sleigh Ride" recounts a horrid tale of rape: "The nine maids, on their white ride, trapped winter's bride. Bare ankles were fettered, and legs were spread wide, so that winter could come inside." The artwork is hauntingly familiar. A ghost from the cover of previous album Screech Owl reappears here in a horse-drawn sleigh. Its identity is unclear, but its spirit remains.

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