Woodtemple - The Call From The Pagan Woods
No Colours Records
Pagan Black Metal
5 songs (45:52)
Release year: 2004
Woodtemple, No Colours Records
Reviewed by Misha

Intros are usually something no one really cares about. Especially in black metal they are too often just a bunch of unkeyed synths, that wanker around for too long while wasting literately valuable time. Every once in a while though, something original pops up, and here we have a perfect example of that happening. Aside the similar intro to Woodstemple’s debut album, Feel The Anger Of The Wind, I never heard anything like this on a metal album. Kicking off with some deep, epic war pounding and synths so heavily on Viking influence that they sound like profound chants or cornets, this could have filled a decent album of its own. Although it would have been most usable as background music for a Lord Of The Rings scene (the mines of Moria for example), it fits Woodtemple even better.

The Austrian Woodtemple is a one man’s project by a guy calling himself Aramath, he released one album before. While that debut sounded almost perfectly the same and almost as good as this one, there is better songwriting to be found here. Amarath’s style seems to draw from that of bands like Graveland quite firmly, yet he manages to sound quite distinctive of his own. The music is very repetitive, but in a good way. The result is a very powerful and glorious sound, yet with a beautiful and melancholic forest feeling to it. Sometimes this downhearted beauty is caused by the synths, sometimes it’s the work of the guitar(s). The music is carried by the drummachine that simply sounds weird. Very rhythmic and powerful midtempo beats are plodded here, that make the album sound like a forest march from start to end. As all are quite isotropic in their construction, they enrich the music with the victorious feeling I spoke about. Easy comparisons for the drumsound are Moonsorrow and especially Drudkh. The drumming was sometimes a little off key on the previous album, but that seems solved here. The sound of the drums is extremely deep and epic, and sometimes there is this great orchestral and warish skinbeating that is used far too little in metal. As you probably do not know what I refer to here, I’ll give the first beats of Hvis Lyset Tar Oss (the album) as a comparison. Also similar sounding are Nagelfar’s drumsolos (for example on Hünengrab Im Herbst), but only when not in blastmode.

The vocals are quite special, they are not aggressive at all. Varg-ish screams but with a far raspier finish. They are not as good as Varg’s, but not really flat either, for they carry a healthy load of desperation along. Although they are pretty weird, they are also very easy to listen to, and do not sound forced. Another good thing is that they sort of wave along with the warbeats, bass, guitarplay or synths and that they are completely imperceptible. If they would not have been totally indiscernible, then one would have been able to hear the lyrics, which are not only very cliché, but extremely bad too. They deal with Pagans killing Christians and related matters, but (most likely) the language barrier was as destructive as the heathens described, so there is not really anything left alive aside poor grammar and childish sentences. I’d rather see lyrics in a native language than in this flimsy English, but of course the lyrics are not the most important part of an album.

The songstructures remind of Hvis Lyset Tar Oss: every now and then something changes and is fully exploited before shifting into something new. Also the production seems quite resembling to that album, yet it is somewhat deeper and powerful here. The music is quite homogenous. This is assumable, since there are three real songs on the album, all very long. Still, the music changes quite a lot, and although some things keep returning per song, there is not really the idea present of having listened to the exact same thing for half an hour. Sure, the music is repetitive, but that partly implies its strength, as on Drudkh’s Autumn Aurora. As I mentioned earlier, the keyboard are partly responsible for the melancholic feeling this album has, midpaced synths flow along and on top of the guitars. They are all natural and strong, and never carry on for too long a period. In most songs though, the guitar takes a firm place in constructing this melancholy for itself, when this happens, the album is at its strongest. The riffs are mainly responsible for the sad vibe, but the way they sound plays an important role on the matter as well. The bass sort of works together with the main guitar to sum up in a sound that is remotely reminiscent to that of a cello. It’s a tragic sort of bittersweet sound that works amazing with vocals and the rhythm of both the riffs and drums, which add a certain feeling of glory, honor and pagan pride to the album. This is what one should buy the record for, the capturing of two seemingly contradicting elements in music at once.

The record combines pagan and black into a last march known an honorable yet sad end. It might need a few spins to really work, but after that it will sure stay in any fan of the genre’s player for a respectable time. A good album that deserves some attention! Definitely recommended!

Killing Songs :
The Realm Of Eternal Loneliness.
Misha quoted 60 / 100
Other albums by Woodtemple that we have reviewed:
Woodtemple - Forgotten Pride reviewed by Andy and quoted 57 / 100
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