Canadian black metal act Woods of Ypres received quite a bit of positive attention for their 2007 effort, The Deepest Roots and Darkest Blues, so this album surely must have been quite a surprise when it was released two years later. W4: The Green Album marked a major change in Woods of Ypres' sound - black metal is almost entirely absent from the mix, clean vocals are often dominant, and a progressive doom metal edge set this apart from anything the band had done before. Although the album has its fair share of critics, I'm in the camp that finds this to be an extremely enjoyable (though not flawless) effort from Woods of Ypres. This is a band who's not content with sounding like anybody else, and that's exactly what they've accomplished with W4: The Green Album. While not without its faults, this is an innovative and often beautiful record that fans of truly unique metal music will want to investigate.
W4: The Green Album can be somewhat difficult to describe at times. There are plenty of nature-inspired black metal influences, but the majority of the album is progressive doom/sludge metal with clean vocals. The vocals actually end up being the most interesting thing about this album. David Gold has a rich, warm tone that is emphasized especially by frequent vocal harmonies. The man's simply an extraordinary clean vocalist, and isn't too shabby in the harsh vocal department either. The instrumental aspect of the music can come across as dull and monotonous at points, but there are some stellar compositions here - I'd actually consider "I Was Buried In Mount Pleasant Cemetery" to be a five-star masterpiece. The first half of the album is actually all pretty excellent, but W4: The Green Album does lose a bit of steam towards the end. Of course, this should come as no surprise when one considers the near-80 minute running time. There simply isn't enough variation or outstanding material to justify such a long duration, and listening to the entire album in one sitting can make for a daunting task. Cutting a half hour or so off of the total length would've increased my enjoyment significantly.
When all is said and done, W4: The Green Album is a really good effort from Woods of Ypres that's plagued by an intimidating playing time and occasionally uninteresting instrumental section. This probably won't be the best entrance into the band's discography, but it's a solid purchase for any fan of the band. Be warned in advance, though - this is not an easy album to get into, especially for those expecting a progressive black metal effort. 3 stars are warranted for this adventurous achievement.
1. Shards of Love (Hurt Forever) (5:17)
2. Everything I Touch Turns to Gold (Then to Coal) (5:02)
3. By the Time You Read This (I Will Already Be Dead) (6:29)
4. I Was Buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery (7:57)
5. Into Exile: "Can You Get Here in 10 Days?" (5:14)
6. Pining (For You) (8:14)
7. Wet Leather (4:30)
8. Suicide Cargoload (Drag That Weight) (4:03)
9. Halves and Quarters (2:24)
10. You Are Here With Me (In This Sequence of Dreams) (1:41)
11. Retrosleep in the Morning Calm (3:25)
12. Don't Open the Wounds / Skywide Armspread (4:58)
13. Natural Technologies (4:54)
14. Mirror Reflection & The Hammer Reinvention (7:02)
15. Our Union (In Limbo) (4:08)
16. Move On! (3:01)
Total Time: 78:19