Mon 29th February 2016
There's a tangible sense of a stirring in the northern woods, a grouping of bands from the North of England producing pristine black metal that can be started to be bracketed alongside the highest of quality from mainland Europe, America and even Scandinavia. Manchester's Wode will definitely be catipulated into the cabal already boasting Winterfylleth, Wodensthrone and Ninkharsag, this self titled debut a masterful work of darkness. They have been around for a few years now, and to anyone who has seen them live or had the stupendous demo tape will not be surprised. The rest of the world may well now catch up and begin to take notice.
I've eagerly anticipated this for a few years. And while Trails of Smoke, brought forward from the demo, robs me of one new Wode song, I'm grateful it's here - it deserves a wider audience. I've listened to this over and over - absolute pure magnificence, black metal to be moved by, body and soul. It contains an impure uplifting mood that's hard to fathom, but you ride along in enlightenment.
That positive surge isn't matched again, but in driving forward with the pure black metal sound, veering only occasionally towards the dotted lines that mark the modern post/atmospheric trend, Wode still manage to produce an album of strength, and one that is passionately, furiously alive. There's an atmosphere of downer intake, even taking into account the traditionally morose framework. Plagues of Insomnia typifies this, the most interesting track here, veiled in a downcast mist, Enslaved-ish exploration toward its end.
The promise of Wode has been realised. This is grand artistry, but without the pompousness of many, reliant instead simply on well produced, fierce as fuck black metal. Fantastic.