Winter is upon us, and we have a soundtrack for its descent.
We know very little about the Finnish black metal band Hollow Woods, neither the precise location nor the identity of its member (or members). We know something about what inspired their debut album, Cold Winds Cleave the Earth, which will be released on the Winter Solstice, December 21st of this waning year.
We’re told that the artwork and the album’s themes were inspired by the Finnish linguist and ethnographer Kai Donner (1888-1935), taken during his expeditions to Siberia for the purpose of studying the Ugric and Samodeic peoples, including their languages.
Beyond that, the music must speak for itself as Hollow Woods works within a framework of devotion to the primal world and nature mysticism. The song we present today, “A Frozen Glance“, speaks in terms that are deeply haunting and harrowing.
The ethereal ring of the strummed instrument at the song’s opening creates a mood that’s both mysterious and fraught with melancholy verging into anguish. The effect is hypnotic and indeed haunting
Suddenly the spell is interrupted by blasting drums, a prominent hurtling bass, and waves of searing, abrasive chords (like winter winds) that are themselves deeply distraught in their sound. When the vocals arrive, their harsh expulsions of screaming, roaring, and wailing seem like the sounds of someone at the limits of human endurance, an expression of fury and wretched torment. It’s difficult to understate how ravishing the vocals are. They edge into singing, but their intensity causes the voice to crack in sounds of despair.
It’s also difficult to understate the immersive impact of those abrading waves of dense riffing. The music slowly seems to rise in splendor, but there’s no escaping the feeling of emotional ruin that courses through those huge upheavals of sound. When a break comes, when the drums convert to a steady march and the bass hums, the strummed guitars and the piercing, trilling leads seem to channel feelings of wistfulness and regret — again in refrains that become hypnotic.
Cold Winds Cleave the Earth will be released on CD, vinyl LP, and digital formats by Signal Rex. Below we’ve also included the previously released album track “Evergreen Vigil“.