White Ward - False Light (2022)Release ID: 37717
If you'd told me I'd call the new White Ward album my favourite black metal release of 2022 so far (in July), I never would have believed you. While I hadn't heard them previously, their blackgaze tag and rather un-black metal album covers had made me assume that they were unlikely to be my thing. Well, in a year when Ukraine itself is fighting against the odds, this Ukrainian band has done the same, and completely floored me. First off though, I'm glad to see that RYM users have course-corrected in recent days, and replaced the blackgaze genre with atmospheric black metal, as there's nothing much resembling blackgaze here. That said, the 66 minutes of music found on False Light covers a whole range of styles, from dark jazz to post-metal to black metal, while also including some ambient sections with apparent lecture-recordings covering climate and religion. The saxophone isn't a gimmick either. It's actually a dominant instrument on the album, not only coming in during interludes and instrumentals, but also merging into the black metal aspect fairly regularly. There are a few different vocalists used as well, so I'm literally amazed at just how well this album integrates all these sounds together, when it could have felt completely disjointed. It never feels jarring, with the lengthy tracks flowing neatly through a whole variety of compelling sounds while still managing to form their own identites.
I'm sure that False Light isn't going to be for everyone. It's quite a daring release, and I had to fight off some initial bouts of uncertainty before developing what is now a very strong affection for it. The only thing stopping me from giving it the full five stars is second track Salt Paradise, which hasn't won me over. The deep monotone voice of Jay Gambit makes the tracks a pretty dour experience, without any of the moving sections found throughout the rest of the album. Don't let that criticism stop you from giving this album a chance though. It really is something pretty special!
Black Metal (conventional)
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Atmospheric Black Metal
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