White Ward - Love Exchange Failure review




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Reviewer:
8.3

32 users:
8.12
Band: White Ward
Album: Love Exchange Failure
Release date: September 2019


01. Love Exchange Failure
02. Poisonous Flowers Of Violence
03. Dead Heart Confession
04. Shelter
05. No Cure For Pain
06. Surfaces And Depths
07. Uncanny Delusions


Futility Report was one of the most intriguing debut albums of this almost-completed decade, a beguiling black metal album with elements of prog, post-metal, post-hardcore and blackgaze, notable due to its intelligent use of soulful saxophone, effective synthesis of several distinct styles and mature song structures. Two years later, White Ward have unleashed their sophomore effort on the world - does Love Exchange Failure live up to the promise of its predecessor?

The most immediately notable difference between the two is the length - Futility Report's 6 tracks and 40 minutes pale in comparison to Love Exchange Failure's 7 tracks (4 of which break the 10-minute barrier) and 67 minutes. The compact nature of their debut enabled the various elements comprising it to all shine, including the melancholy saxophone, chillout electronics, post-rock tremolo, and depressive black metal, post-black, post-hardcore and blackgaze riffing styles, all employed in various combinations. The extended length of its successor provides White Ward opportunity to more extensively explore these ideas, but they appear to have moved away from a few of these elements to a degree in order to focus on other aspects of their sound. The saxophone continues to pop up throughout the album, the lead guitar is still given occasional chances to shine, and the blackgaze elements are firmly present; however, the electronics, and post-rock and post-hardcore elements feel less prominent this time around. Conversely, there are a couple of new elements that pop up here; for example, clean vocals are occasionally employed, such as the Nordic metal clean vocal section that nicely caps off the end of "No Cure For Pain" and the Perdition City-esque clean vocals during "Surfaces And Depths". Additionally, piano feels like a more regular contributor this time around.

The second-most immediately notable difference to me was an increase in the drumming intensity; certainly, Futility Report was by no means devoid of blast beats, with odd cameos in a couple of songs, but their use feels more regular throughout several of the tracks on Love Exchange Failure. Indeed, the overall sound, at least earlier on with the first couple of tracks, does feel like it's shifted a bit more towards the blackgaze approach popularized by the likes of Deafheaven rather than the melancholy/depressive vibe of much of the debut. Conversely, the second half of the album following the piano instrumental "Shelter" does channel a darker vibe, and greater and more impressive stylistic variety, particularly on "No Cure For Pain", arguably the choice cut from this record, and the intriguing "Surfaces And Depths", which feels like it carries some Ulver influence. It certainly feels like White Ward utilized most of their more progressive, ambitious and inspired ideas in this second half of the album.

Plenty of what made Futility Report such an impressive album remains on Love Exchange Failure, further expanded upon and with new elements added on top. Although I slightly prefer the compact synthesis of approaches on their debut album to this one, the likes of "Dead Heart Confession", "No Cure For Pain" and closer "Uncanny Delusions" make for great listening, and overall Love Exchange Failure is a very strong sophomore effort that confirms the band as an important contributor to the post-black/blackgaze scene.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Production: 9


 



Written on 22.09.2019 by I'm just a guy with an opinion.


Comments

Comments: 7   Visited by: 74 users
22.09.2019 - 18:38
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
I remember really enjoying Futility Report in 2017 so nice to see a new one from these guys so soon! Good review, you definitely have me convinced I ought to check this one out soon. The assertion that it's more proggy in the second half particularly intrigues me... can always do with some more quality prog black, one of my favorite styles.
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22.09.2019 - 19:13
musclassia
Written by Apothecary on 22.09.2019 at 18:38

I remember really enjoying Futility Report in 2017 so nice to see a new one from these guys so soon! Good review, you definitely have me convinced I ought to check this one out soon. The assertion that it's more proggy in the second half particularly intrigues me... can always do with some more quality prog black, one of my favorite styles.


Yeah, discovered Futility Report a few months ago, really solid album. I wasn't so keen on this one on first listen, I think because the first two songs weren't quite as up my street, but with a couple of subsequent listens I found myself really impressed with the second half of the album
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23.09.2019 - 10:23
Nefarious
Doom Knight
Futility Report was one of my favourite albums of 2017, so I've been eagerly anticipating this. I've only had the chance to give a spin once so far, but this certainly feels a totally different animal to the debut. It's certainly more complex & feels like one of those albums that rewards the listener who puts the time & attention in that the album deserves, where the original was a bit more straight-forward & easy to grasp in that aspect.

Enjoying it so far, but need to give it a fair few more spins yet.
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23.09.2019 - 11:08
musclassia
Written by Nefarious on 23.09.2019 at 10:23

Futility Report was one of my favourite albums of 2017, so I've been eagerly anticipating this. I've only had the chance to give a spin once so far, but this certainly feels a totally different animal to the debut. It's certainly more complex & feels like one of those albums that rewards the listener who puts the time & attention in that the album deserves, where the original was a bit more straight-forward & easy to grasp in that aspect.

Enjoying it so far, but need to give it a fair few more spins yet.


I certainly felt more positive after listens 2 and 3; I wrote a draft on my first listen that was closer to a mid-7 score in terms of positivity, but adjusted it to be increasingly more positive with repeat listens. I think the blackgaze side stood out on first listen, which put me off a bit as I felt that wasn't necessarily a side of their sound they needed to prioritize, whilst the more interesting second half made a bigger impact on revisits.
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23.09.2019 - 14:07
Bad English
Masterchief
What a horrible artwork
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28.09.2019 - 16:02
nikarg
Old Nick
Written by musclassia on 22.09.2019 at 19:13

I wasn't so keen on this one on first listen, I think because the first two songs weren't quite as up my street, but with a couple of subsequent listens I found myself really impressed with the second half of the album

I did like the first two tracks a lot, especially the opener. But I agree with you that the second half sounds a bit better. In any case it's a very good successor to Futility Report which was really interesting too.

Weird choice for cover art. I don't hate it but I don't like it either. It just confuses me in some way.
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28.09.2019 - 16:22
musclassia
Written by nikarg on 28.09.2019 at 16:02


Weird choice for cover art. I don't hate it but I don't like it either. It just confuses me in some way.


Yeah definitely a bit jarring.
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