Vintersea - Woven Into Ashes review
|Album:||Woven Into Ashes|
|Release date:||May 2023|
01. Unveiling Light
02. Devil's Churn
03. Crescent Eclipse
04. At The Gloaming Void
05. Parallel Duality
06. Lonesome Tide
07. Into The Horizon
08. No Tomorrow
Here is a band that sort of has it all: death growls, black shrieks and blast beats, melodeath riffs, post-rock ambience, clean female vox, folksy post-metal; you name it, Vintersea has it. Well, here’s how not to write a review. Maybe I can get away with it once. To begin with, there is just so much going on this album that I am finding it difficult to know where to start, but here I am. Listening to Woven Into Ashes is like playing “Where’s Waldo?” with metal. This band cannot seem to decide what style they want to play, and that is, theoretically, just fine by me. The blending of (one hell of a bunch of) various styles has been known to result in many a legendary metal album, after all (insert Wildhoney et al. references here—actually, screw it, I’d have to make a list, and I’m terrible at those). The question is, how well does Vintersea do… well, basically everything at once?
To begin with, the obvious thing that sets Vintersea apart from dime-a-dozen, uh, post-black-melodeath–power-pop-prog-folk (god-damn it, here we go again…) metal bands (name-dropping is left as an exercise for the reader, as they say) is their use of a female vocalist. Avienne does everything from cleans to screams to growls, and does a great job at all of these different styles. Moreover, she does a lot to set the band apart from other would-be imitators of whatever we are supposed to call this amalgamation of all the genres that the band is taking cues from. I wouldn’t go so far as to call Vintersea avant-garde, they are more progressive in the sense that they use well-established elements in novel ways rather than using non-established elements in familiar ways. Wait, my subconscious is flashing: “RED ALERT: Awakening an ancient debate, course redirection advised!” Be nice, let’s just call it prog and call it a day, please?
There are, and it bears mentioning, lots and lots of various styles on display on Woven Into Ashes. Lots and lots. An awful lot. Not so much within individual songs; the songs themselves are quite internally consistent, but there is mucho, mucho variation between the eight of them. Which leads me back to my previous point about how not to write a review:
— Don’t just do a song-by-song walkthrough of the album, because that’s totally boring.
— Don’t just throw together a crapload of subgenres into one single expression and expect the reader to be able to assume what that sounds like.
— Don’t write a bunch of things that lack any internal coherence and fail to mention the overarching musical themes and concepts on the album.
— Don’t talk to yourself in cheesy bullet point lists to somehow try to avoid responsibility for whatever stupid shit you come up with.
The three first of these points apply to making albums as well, hint, hint. But okay, okay, I’ll try better: Woven Into Ashes starts out with two songs that at least slightly resemble each other in style, being a mishmash of: *takes a deep breath* melodeath riffs vs. rocking meloblack riffs, blast beats vs. tom-heavy prog beats, death growls vs. black screams vs. anthemic, sort of poppy, symphonic cleans. That's about half of it. “Devil’s Churn” has a main riff that truly sounds like something dark and ominous, nearly dissonant churning in the background. However, there’s something about its jagged contrast to the uplifting clean choruses and sadly flat production that fails to convince me. The vocals are slightly too loud, the guitars slightly too low, the bass definitely too low, and the drums too clicky. Still, it’s nothing if not an interesting way to start an album that will follow up this unconvincing beginning with some of the coolest stuff I’ve heard this year.
The third song, “Crescent Eclipse”, somehow manages to sound exactly like the title implies, even though the title is possibly as abstract as they come. Are you confused yet? Join the club. It has a very catchy, post-rocky but sort of shadily country-like, folksy, lonely riff that instantly registers in your memory. It then follows this up with some masterful progressions in terms of dynamics and composition as it veers back and forth between the calm, moody post-rock riff and more extreme sections. In “Parallel Duality”, about halfway through, there’s this sort of ascending The Mars Volta (way back when they actually wrote good music) jazz fusion riff, and in “Lonesome Tide”, they even include flute solos. Meanwhile, some choruses wouldn’t be out of place on a power metal album. What gives? I have no idea, but it is pretty damn good… about half of the time.
Listen, there’s a lot of potential here. There are, however, two main problems with Woven Into Ashes: the at times ungelled variety and the flat production. I already talked about the production earlier, and the elements from which Vintersea create their music do on several occasions come off not so much as dissimilar as they come off as disparate, if that makes any sense. If it doesn’t make any sense, to hell with it, that’s what that bullet list disclaimer was for, and to be honest, this album doesn’t make much sense either. If you’re confused, that’s because I’m confused, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good album. It is a good album, and “when it’s good, it’s great”, as I like to say. There are just a few chinks to be ironed out before it will turn into something overall great, and I’m looking forward to it.
||Written on 25.04.2023 by 100% objective opinions.|
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