The start of 2014 has been quite exciting as far as new music is concerned as most of the albums I have been asked to review have been by bands whose work I have never come across before in the past.
One such band is the Finnish quartet Woland. Having been founded back in 2010, the band released only a double single entitled “Conquer All & Live Forever” prior to started working on new ideas.
It took the band a good two years to come up with enough ideas to put together a studio album but that time has finally come as “Hyperion”, released with the support of Norwegian label Indie Recordings, is now available.
The press release for “Hyperion” describes Woland as a Post Black Metal band – a description that I personally find to be slightly misleading as this quartet has absolutely nothing in common which bands like Alcest who are currently the champions of said genre.
While keen on incorporating atmospheric elements into their music, they do so from a more Goth metal angle, while the mid-tempo groovy riffs and blackened vocals that the band predominantly utilises to capture your attention really ought to be attributed to influences from bands such as Satyricon and Carpathian Forest.
Based on all the above, “Hyperion” should theoretically be a very impressive album but, sadly, there are quite a few reasons why this is not the case, starting with the production.
While the cold/dirty Norwegian –influenced sound that the band has self-produced has truly worked marvels in terms of how LXVI’s guitar riffs come across, W’s ungodly vocals are placed fairly back in the overall mix.
This results in one’s attention being drawn predominantly to the guitar work on offer, thus sidelining an important ingredient in the making of this album.
Choosing favourite tracks from “Hyperion” clearly depends on musical background and genre of choice, as is the case with most releases of such a varied nature.
Songs, based on groovy & pompous riffs such like the opener “Conquer All” and the harmony-infused “Living Water” ought to attract the attention of fans of Bathory and of bands appearing during the latter stages of the second wave of Black Metal while Gothic overtones characterise the more melody-driven tracks, such as “Art of Ascension” and “None”.
The incorporation of various different ideas into a single composition has not always been successful, as suggested by the structurally ‘busy’ “Ecstasy and Rapture”. The few times, on the other hand, that these four musicians decided to approach the song writing process in a more focused way, such as in the piano-infused “Live Forever” and the riff-driven “Elevated Existence”, the end result has been fairly impressive indeed.
I am sure that every young band out there dreams of releasing a debut album capable of elevating them to the status of Metal gods, but sadly “Hyperion” does not have the chops to achieve such a thing for Woland.
Having said that, there are moments on this eight track release where the skills and capabilities of this quartet really do shine through, which will hopefully help the band to create a more accomplished set of compositions next time round.
A promising start from an equally promising young band.