(Wil Cifer brings us this review of the new album by Germany’s ColdWorld.)
Finally after 8 years, Germany’s ColdWorld has released a new album, Autumn. This world might be more of a slight chill than a cold one, as the sound has certainly changed. With this album, everything is bigger, so the compromise is even up to some of the starkness created by the more lo-fi ambiance of this project’s earlier work. I love depressive black metal; if you have read my other reviews then you know I like it as dark as a band can give it to me. So after hearing the changes, which have made this more of an atmospheric black metal album than a depressive black metal album, I had to pry my stubborn old mind open even further.
The mood has changed; something hopeful lies within the chords propelling the scowling vocals. Things become even more refined when clean vocals appear in the first song, creating a more Porcupine Tree sound. Female vocals are even layered within “Void”. Synths set the stage for “Woods of Emptiness”. There is an emotive pulse to the guitar, but to my ears it’s not what I call dark; instead it paints the song in a hazy, dream-like gray.
Though the shades have changed, the songwriting benefits, and if this project had simply picked up where it left off 8 years ago it would have felt stale. So the changes might take getting used to, but they represent growth. This is not a sell-out, even though there is more double-bass than blast-beating when it’s time to get heavy. More doesn’t mean this album is devoid of black metal, as enough of the black metal trappings have been retained.
The vocals do begin to go down a more Opeth-like path, but for me the acid test when it comes to clean vocals in more extreme sub-genres of metal is, does it work? When set against a shoe-gazing shimmer of guitar there is a more resounding yes.
I held onto the hope in my little ashen heart that the more depressing sounds would come, so when I got to the song “Climax of Sorrow” I felt assured it would be ok, to light the candles and run the bathwater for the misery to come. Then I realized I don’t have a tub, not that anything happened which would have inspired wrist-slitting. The vocals become a little more agonized as the album progresses. Eventually this brings the songs to a place that is nastier and much more emotive. Across the board sonically, things have improved. This is a combination of superior production value and more attention to detail when it comes to the songwriting
I found that even when this album ended in a blur of atmospheric black metal, what was required for me to really hear it was to take it for what it is rather than weigh it so heavily against a by-gone era.
Perhaps this doesn’t fit as neatly into the sub-genres you might be expecting, but once you are able to sit back and listen to this with a fresh set of ears, it is easy to hear this album as the project’s majestic step forward into a more epic sound. Darkthrone, Burzum, and Mayhem have all evolved over the years, and that is what ColdWorld is doing. The adult thing to do was not to try and remake another TheStarsAreDeadNow, but to expand the scope of the sounds ColdWorld weaves into its songs in the fashion this album has. It might indeed take some getting used to, but at the end of the day it’s a pretty stunning album that has been laid at our feet.