Woods of Ypres was a Canada based doom/black metal band, formed by Aaron Palmer and the late David Gold (1980-2011) in 2002. The band went through several lineup changes, but always revolved around the central figure of David Gold who wrote, played and recorded a great deal of the WoY discography. They recorded one EP and four full-length albums. Their first three albums were released by David’s record labels, but got re-released by Earache Records, who also published the last two albums: “IV: The Green Album” and “Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light”.
IV: The Green Album
“The Green Album” serves as a synthesis of the old black metal oriented sound of WoY and a more refined doom metal sound of the last record. Its a conceptual masterpiece which guides the listener through different stages of a breakup. From the last fight and your loved one moving out, to a hate-fueled rant about women, you can find it all. This album shows the band’s ability to write all genres of music, from the crusty “Halves And Quarters” to the complex and experimental “Mirror Reflections And The Hammer Invention”. This album is to be enjoyed in full. The songs are great, and their themes can be analised separately, but it is best experienced as a whole. Having said that, as a good starter, for someone who is just starting out with WoY, I would suggest “Wet Leather”, “Shards of Love” and “Natural Technologies”.
Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light
The final WoY album was released just after David’s departure. This album won the 2012 Yuno award (like the Grammy, but in Canada), making it the most successful WoY album. It has a refined doom metal sound, with a more unified tonal print, despite having two main composers, David and Joel Violette. Thematically it deals with disappointment, failure and death.
The song “Adora Vivos” is a commentary about bandwagons and how people love a person more when they passed away. It was inspired by Peter Steele’s death, and the following resurgence of Type O Negative. “Silver” is a “friendzone” song written before the term got popular. Those are also songs I would suggest to any new listener, and I would also suggest “Death Is Not An Exit”, because the song has one of the best endings ever.
III: The Deepest Roots and Darkest Blues
Released on 1st of December 2007 it is their third album. This album is fairly different sounding from their last two works, mainly because they didn’t know how to put delays and reverb on vocals. Jokes aside, the vocals can be a bit out of tune at times, but its charming none the less.
This album deals with depression more than anything. It was written by a young adult who struggled with a world around him. Its filled with strong songs like “Northern Cold”, “December in Windsor”, “Distractions Of Living Alone”, but has some strange ones like “Through Chaos And Solitude I Came…” (This one is a post apocalyptic black metal monster song, I guess).
Pursuit of the Sun & Allure of the Earth
This album was the first full-length WoY release. It was released through David’s record label, Krankenhaus records. This album features David Gold on vocals, guitars and drums. As their first album, its still very raw and unpolished, but packs a real black metal punch. Songs from this album were not a frequent sight on later WoY concerts. “Shedding the Deadwood” and “Allure of the Earth” are my favorites, and a good start since they represent the album well, but the whole hour of Canadian black is definitely worth a listen.
Heart of Gold
After David’s passing in December 2011, the remaining WoY members, family and friends organized a tribute concert for the late artist. Bands who knew David and loved the music came together and released a tribute album containing 19 cover songs. “Heart of Gold” has a wide variety of styles and includes some of my favorite songs: “Wet Leather” performed by November’s Doom, “A Meeting Place and Time” by Panzerfaust and “Silver” performed by Rae and Joel from WoY.
Thrawsunblat was founded in 2009, by Brendan Hayter, Joel Violette and David Gold. Their first release, Canada 2010 has a more pagan feel to it than Woods of Ypres. The sound is very different, but in my opinion, Thrawsunblat is a spiritual successor to Woods since it holds a legacy, and has the same members.
Wanderer on the Continent of Saplings
This is their second release. Published by Ignifera Records, this album is an masterpiece. It loosely tells a classical hero story. From the first step, across hardships and pain, to the rebirth of a hero. “Wanderer on the Continent of Sapling” should be listened to as a whole. Its a great story and an even better album. It shows how much the artists have grown, and how many different styles they have mastered. Although this isn’t confirmed by the authors, I think “Goose River (Mourners March)” is a tribute to David. “Bones in the Undertow”, “Wanderer” and “I am the Viator ” are my top picks from this release.
“Metachthonia” is Thrawsunblat’s latest release, featuring more epic songs than ever before. With only 6 songs, it still runs for more than an hour. Most songs are divided into parts and have a classical epic feel to them. They all fit into a story, but its better for you to figure out what it is.
Worth mentioning are three separate EPs: “Thrawsunbit”, “Vast Aboreal Sky” and “Fires in Mist (Extrachthonia)”. “Thrawsunbit” is an 8 bit EP with songs from “Wanderer”, and it is just fun to listen to. “Vastland”, “She Aboreal” and “Black Sky” were recorded as acoustic versions for the “Vast Aboreal Sky” EP. “Fires in Mist” is a two song acoustic EP containing two songs from “Metacthtonia”.