Woods Of Ypres Woods 5: Grey Skies and Electric Lights

Woods Of Ypres Woods 5: Grey Skies and Electric Lights

When Woods of Ypres released an album preview last fall, debuting a track from their upcoming record, the song was nearly too catchy to believe, like years' worth of hooks and grooves distilled into less than four minutes. Woods' founder and leader, David Gold, always had an ear for the memorable extreme metal chorus, his band progressively evolving further from their blackened origins, but "Career Suicide (is not Real Suicide)" could be a dark rock anthem for an entire cynical and disenchanted generation. And this much condensed catchiness sounded like a challenge to anyone too hung up on metal elitism or taking themselves too seriously, as if to warn, "if you can't handle this, don't even bother." The record is both a challenge and 21st-century anthem, though no other track takes on that degree of upbeat gloominess for more than a bar or two. Grey Skies and Electric Lights, for all its metal undercurrents and bursts of heaviness, is a refusal of genre, more rock'n'roll, acoustic, post-rock, goth ― more everything, really ― than anything the band released previously, while still exploiting the harsh intensity and shadows of black, death and, especially, doom. It's impossible to know of founder David Gold's passing last December and not hear eerie echoes of that loss and finality in lyrics exploring the inevitability of death as much as the (im)possibilities of loving and living. And if that makes Woods 5 more poignant, a lasting tribute or memorial, then so be it. But it's the songs, not the tragedy, that make this one of the most meaningful albums of the year so far. (Earache)