Saturday 30 November 2013

WARD - S/T Album Review

 WARD LP cover art
Ward are a Finnish Doom/Sludge/Post-Metal band from Finland

The band members are:

J. Vastinesluoma
M. Saastamoinen
T. Lepistö
J. Pitkänen
A. Murtonen

Upon first listening to the self-titled EP soon to be released by Finland doom outfit, Ward, my belief that some albums give you no choice but to listen to them in another dimension, being neither here nor there, was solidified with greatest absolution. This four track album will transport from your living room to a brutal sea of sludge at once solemn and vehement.

Anonymous Caller opens the album with delicate fuzz and hints of bass, building anticipation for the inevitable eruption of slow-heavy that any lover of doom will find irresistible. After lying in the wake of a behemoth of sound for almost five minutes, we are briefly caressed by a melodic, instrumental passage eluding to elements of post-metal to be heard throughout the album. Guitars, drums, and vocals then pick up quite a bit from the original pace for a final blast before the second epic track begins.

In Denial is quite the suitable name for a track with a harrowing, orchestral introduction nearly three minutes in length. By this time, one becomes well aware, and pleased, that Ward has mastered the art of weaving in and out of heaviness and softness while managing to encompass one unfaltering mood perfectly on each facet. Rhythmic elements of the first track are then revisited with solid vocals and a few catchy new riffs thrown in before ending in a subdued fashion, familiar to its beginning.

Riisutto jumps right in without relent, carrying on much of the same sound from previous tracks. Five minutes in, just when I began to fear that such a promising album might become redundant, a sludge battle cry if I ever heard one sends forth an avalanche of riffs and the album takes on a new, more intricate texture from here on out; this includes a blackened variation in the vocals in the last two minutes of the song, which I welcomed with my skull-ridden arms wide open.

Self Made Hell is what I would consider the monumental track of the album. An absolute culmination of the goodness we have thus far been spoon-fed piece by piece. After opening with a soft guitar solo, a mountain of epic doom rises as high as the tempestuous sky I see now outside my window. I couldn't imagine a day more drearily perfect for reviewing such a fine specimen as this. Self Made Hell takes a new direction than the previous tracks, putting the emphasis on the vocals throughout its entirety; they take on a new clarity and you can truly feel the bleak emotion, which has been simmering throughout, now boil over into the darkest crevices of the mind.

I am completely satisfied right now; crushed beneath this small but mighty boulder of sludgy post-metal-tinted doom.

Throughout the entirety of their album Ward holds nothing back but somehow still continues to give more with each passing minute. They build on song structure by introducing subtle new elements in each track, creating an album that is flowing and cohesive; consistent yet never redundant, grim, beautiful, and heavy as the devil's balls.

Though I do often while listening to an album appreciate being clobbered for over an hour with a relentless hammer of doom, I also enjoy being cradled with some atmospheric misanthropy and desolation in between and this album gives me approximately thirty-six minutes of just that combination. The sludge-ridden and at times blackened vocals are clear and almighty throughout, taking their turn to convey a certain sepulchral emotion. At choice moments, when the lyrical themes are quite apparent, they will not only force you to abandon all hope but will leave your innards shuddering. I hope you don't like a dash of sugar in your coffee or a glimmer of hope in your riffs of ruination because Ward's cup o’ joe is served only one way, and that way is fucking black.

Drink up. You won't regret it.

Ward's self-titled EP will be released December 15th, 2013.

In the meantime, you may listen to the epic fourth track, Self Made Hell, on their bandcamp:

For fans of: Isis, Neurosis, Intronaut, Callisto

Written by Heather Stubbs