There is a depth and presence to Hyperion, the debut album from Finnish post black metallers Woland which just cannot be conveyed through words and description, a mental and physical magnetism which simply enthrals and immerses the imagination in a creative and thought provoking journey. Consisting of eight progressively intensive and thickly evocative explorations with more warmth and sun lit imagination than any other recent black metal proposition, post or not, the album is a captivation which steals every aspect of the listener in its maze of sound.
The quartet from Helsinki state in their bio that their ‘music and lyrics are not tied to any specific events or follow any single dogma, they are heavily influenced by some of the modern world’s most prominent philosophers and writers as well as inspired by mythology with its gods and heroes.’ It is an intent or heart which expands compellingly into the diversity of their invention, no boundaries set and no limitations entertained within its strikingly varied flavouring and bold, highly successful fusions of textures and sounds. Formed in 2010 the band drew strong attention with their double single made up of the tracks Conquer All and Live Forever in the following year. The eagerly consumed songs bred high anticipation in a great many for the band’s first full-length and without doubt the Indie Recordings released Hyperion feeds and goes beyond expectations and hopes lying in wait for it.
Conquer All brings the album into view, a sonic breath soaking pores and senses initially as hungry rhythms, caustic riffs, and a melodic entwining of sonic temptation close in on the imagination. Heavy dark rasping vocals unveil the lyrical narrative to appealing effect, their appearance first skirted by an impressive and virulently alluring groove before being immersed in a drama wrapped shadow of keys and guitar. The continual switching of the two is a magnetic incitement but only half the picture as band and track rigorously twist into further imagination fuelled ventures to leave the listener and their thoughts bewitched by unpredictable fluid invention. The song merges dark climates and warmth soaked adventures emotionally as strikingly as its duelling sounds, the track a scintillating entrance into the creative landscape of Woland.
The following Art of Ascension is equally as riveting in sound and ingenuity, the blackened prose of the sonic beckoning ripe with heated radiance and contagious temptation. As its predecessor, the track never settles in gait or tone, its wonderful almost agitated blaze of contrast littered design a mouthwatering and close to being bewildering, but persistently successful inspiration to thoughts and emotions. Equally like the first, the song is a provocative ‘dance’ which intimidates and seduces to extremes, something its successor Living Water replicates though seemingly favouring the darkest climes. A stalking provoking of the senses with a swagger and addiction feeding groove to enlist instant submission into its heavy coaxing, the song soon fully commands attention. Once in that position the rug of assumption is ripped from under the feet, an elegant expanse of melody sculpted calm with an emotive flamenco colouring leading to a powerful sonic narration for the imagination. The original intensive endeavour seems even more imposing and voracious with its return to conclude the track, a proposition which without challenging the previous song and one to follow provides strong bait for its recipient.
None comes in next to take best track honours and confirm the album as a real challenger for classic status. A true artistic predator from the opening notes, the song preys upon and pushes the senses to their fearful limits but all the time is weaving grooves and sonic laces of infectious invention around the intrusive provocation to entice and unerringly tempt the imagination. It is a glorious and ingenious mesh of flavours and startling brilliance which defies any real labelling, something sure to frustrate those who need to do such thing. Technically and emotively the track is aural alchemy, a tsunami of original and fertile ingeniousness as good as matched by Extacy and Rapture, the next song unveiling greater antagonism in its metal bred sinews and potency in its sonic lassos of virulence. As the last song, it provides variations in sound, texture, and structure to invite the strongest appetite from any heavy and groove metal to black and progressive metal enthusiast, Woland breeding their own unique soundscape once again.
The brief instrumental Honey in The Lion, a piece with a piano solo performed by guest Risto Tiihonen, gives a breather to the listener, a calm before the storm of Live Forever which is another ravenous and extensive foraging of thoughts and emotions not forgetting senses. Like the closing Elevated Existence, the track does not inflame the passions as powerfully as the earlier tracks, something indefinable missing but both still seduce thoughts and imagination with unreserved success. The pair provides exhaustive landscapes of unrelenting and inflammatory invention, neither allowing time to settle and digest any moment before thrusting the listener into another impacting and evocative twist, both protagonists impressing more and more with every lengthy declaration.
Hyperion is an outstanding and unique encounter from a band which is destined to become a major force. To be honest though the album, complete with additional guest appearances from artists like Geir Bratland (Dimmu Borgir), Mathias Lillmåns (Finntroll), and Janica Lönn (Black Sun Aeon), suggests that Woland is already there.
Upcoming Woland Tour dates:
22.02.14 NOR Bergen @ Blasfest
10.04.14 FIN Helsinki @ On The Rocks
06.-08.06.14 HRV (Croatia) Zadar @ Underwall Festival
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