When you see that a metal band is releasing a double-album, one thing you know without being told is that they must have had a lot of ideas. When you see that the total length of a double album is almost two hours, you’re inclined to resort to all caps, and at least one exclamation point: A LOT OF IDEAS! But what you won’t know until listening is whether there were enough GOOD IDEAS to justify the risks of such an imposing creation.
Because, let’s face it, in a fast-paced age plagued by famously short attention spans when many (if not most) single albums barely top half an hour, going THIS BIG can be a deterrent to listeners. Will they be as devoted in listening to the music as the band were in creating it?
The Belarusian doom band Woe Unto Me will learn the answer to that question, because they have taken precisely that risk. Their new album, Among The Lightened Skies The Voidness Flashed, will be released tomorrow (September 29th) through Solitude Productions, and we have a full stream for you today. It consists of two records, and together they are nearly two hours long. And they are indeed full of ideas — but they address big, timeless questions too, questions of such intrinsic weight and pervasiveness in the human conscience that you can better understand why they did what they have done.
In writing that last sentence I had in mind these words of introduction about the album (though I don’t know whether these specific words were chosen by a band member or the label or someone else):
“The silent infinity that rushes upwards, completely absorbs and calms. Is this the beginning of the end or the rebirth from the ashes? One starts to understand that the existence is cyclic, it is like an autumn leaf moldering from a tired wind and giving life to timid plants with transparent souls in the spring.
“The noise of life is completely voiceless in comparison with the silent abyss, whose cry causes every cell of the body to dry out, sink and drown in helplessness. The subtle threads of existence that unite, explode, forming emptiness that is the flesh that can think.
“Life is infinite … however, it will continue only in the eyes of the beholder, in the mind of the thinker, in the heart of the lover. This delicate border lies between the two CD’s of the Woe Unto Me’s new album, Among The Lightened Skies The Voidness Flashed.”
The two parts of the album are distinct from each other in their sound. Generalizing about each of them is difficult, because each CD houses considerable variety, but in general the first CD is a staggeringly heavy and emotionally intense array of doom metal, while different acoustic instruments play a more important (but not exclusive) role in the second one, creating tapestries of melancholy and sorrow that are also often quite beautiful.
Cavernous growls, solemn baritone words, howls of intense agony, dramatic clean vocals (both male and female) of impressive range, and angelic female choirs express the lyrics in the first record. The pacing moves from the glacial stagger of funeral doom to more rocking rhythms. There are passages of apocalyptic heaviness and frightening bleakness, mystic segments that are almost gossamer light and haunting, thoroughly engrossing minutes that draw upon progressive metal, and movements of heart-breaking and all-too-human emotional collapse.
And there is much else besides that: I did say that generalizing would be difficult, and in fact it’s foolish to even think about doing so, because although doom is the order of the day, there is great variety in the first album, along with great songwriting that presents intensely memorable melodies and a remarkable richness of instrumental textures and tones, as well as changing moods. It would also be wrong to create too sharp a divide between the two records, because there are passages of mesmerizing beauty in the first record, just as there are in the second one.
And to continue on that point, there is heaviness in the second CD — a particularly weighty bass, and drum rhythms you can feel in your core — despite the more important role of acoustic instruments and clean voices, and these songs also display an almost equal richness of instrumental contributions and changing moods.
Only you can decide whether the cornucopia of ideas reflected in these two records will turn out to justify the time this double-album requires of you. I for one think it is time very well spent. Because the music is so well-composed and so well-executed, it also means that these two hours can easily become many more hours of pleasure and discovery in the years to come.
The album was recorded in Monroe Sound Studio (Poland) with Arkadiusz “Aro” Jabłoński(Shadows Land, Masachist), who has been the producer for such bands as Vesania, Masachist, Disloyal, and Shadows Land. The artwork was created by Lenore Ani.
In addition, the very impressive track named “Triptych: Shiver, Shelter, Shatter“ includes excellent guest vocal appearances by Daniel Neagoe (Clouds, Eye of Solitude, Shape of Despair), Patryk Zwoliński (Proghma-C, ex-Blindead, ex-Neolithic, ex-Antigama) and Jón Aldará (Hamferd, Barren Earth, Clouds). The last track on the second CD also includes another guest appearance by Daniel Neagoe.
Check these links for further release info and ordering options:
1. Triptych: Shiver, Shelter, Shatter – 00:00
2. Of Life That Never Showed Its Face – 13:27
3. I Come To Naught – 26:29
4. Breath Of A Grief – 40:57
5. Drawn By Mourning – 51:20
1. In A Stranglehold – 00:00
2. Leave Me To My Sorrows – 06:45
3. Along Came The Imminence – 11:35
4. Fall-Dyed Lament – 18:18
5. A Year-Long Waiting – 26:40
6. My Joy Lies Behind – 34:17
7. The Snide Sun – 39:27