Woods of Desolation - _Torn Beyond Reason_
(Northern Silence Productions, 2011)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (8.5 out of 10)
As it happens, Woods of Desolation's _Torn Beyond Reason_ is not as new as other albums I review. I interviewed bassist D a few months back about the record, but did not follow up with an album review merely because I moved onto other things. It was not until a few months later when a friend stopped me at a party and thanked me for recommending him a variety of albums, including _Torn Beyond Reason_. We were both drinking homebrewed beer outside of the now empty house where I grew up in. What followed afterward was an affirmation of thoughts once held but never realized. The thought was that _Torn Beyond Reason_ was somehow different than others and perhaps even reaching an amazing quality. I write this a few months late, only now realizing _Torn Beyond Reason_ and Woods of Desolation is incredible and a few steps away from perfection.

Woods of Desolation plays a straightforward style of black metal heard with Alcest, Wolves in the Throne Room and to some extent Agalloch. However, the fact they are Australian makes any sort of connection to the Cascadian black metal region nearly impossible, unless the Pacific Ocean is somehow smaller than the last time I checked. Despite New South Wales being seasonally perfect all the time, Woods of Desolation's music reflects a world devoid of any warmth, with only a blazing winter sun scorching the landscape.

_Torn Beyond Reason_ breaks out as a premier release not stifled under the weight of lo fidelity. The difference is noticeable, as _Towards the Depths_' highlights were drowned in a flood of noise. The extra breathing room allows for some atmospheric elements as well as incredible use of silence and negative space. The additional benefits of post rock allows the album's mortal obsessed lyrics to take on a more serious tone. Woods of Desolation focuses on loneliness, darkness and ultimate despair. These seemingly bland lyrics transcend other albums with similar themes. The music complements the words perfectly in an ultimate experience of black metal bliss.

Balance is one of the most important aspects for _Torn Beyond Reason_, as no one part takes the lead. The vocals, drumming and tremolo picking all blend together for a harmonious performance where no one aspect is most important. With a level mixing process, the vocals are allowed to swoop and soar, including the harrowing opening screams of "Darker Days". While this record could have tipped over into the pond of overwrought emotional jelly, the emotions and yearning are kept to a reasonable level. The closing post rock instrumental "November" bleeding into "Somehow..." are capable of eliciting eyerolls. The fact it doesn't and does quite the opposite is as surprising as it is fulfilling.

Woods of Desolation consist of longtime member D and vocalist/drummer Tim Yatras. They are often discussed in conjunction with fellow Australian black metal band Austere, who also shares past and present members. One of the more tense moments of my interviewing career was when I referred to Woods of Desolation as being a side-project to Austere. D, very politely, yet sternly, corrected me by saying Austere and Woods of Desolation have no relationship to each other and it is thus ridiculous to mention commonality. This correction obviously comes from a long history of critical confusion regarding shared local, style and band members.

Austere's legacy in the depressive black metal market shares little with Woods of Desolation and their thesis. While there is certainly melancholy surrounding both bands, Woods of Desolation does not resign itself to the throes of agony. Woods of Desolation posses a more mature and stoic reaction to pain and torment, one that is older and wiser than their counterparts. _Torn Beyond Reason_ is a gigantic leap forward, not only for the band, but for Australia as a progressive climate for metal.

Contact: http://www.northern-silence.de

(article published 26/6/2011)


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3/28/2011 J Carbon Woods of Desolation: World of Ruin
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