REVIEW: Woods Of Desolation - As the Stars

Genre: Atmospheric/Black Metal
Label: Northern Silence
Date of Release: February 14, 2014


One-man project Woods Of Desolation formed in 2005 from Wollongong, Australia, led by guitarist/bassist D. Their third full-length album "As the Stars" would be set to air on Valentine's Day 2014, a fitting date for the release of a depressive black metal record.

The best aspect of "As the Stars" is definitely its strong sense of atmosphere. From "Like Falling Leaves" to "Ad Infinitum," every last track has a high abundance of that raw but thick atmosphere that makes the black metal genre so powerful to begin with. This is especially the case with this seven-track specimen, as the raw production and mixing underlines the surprisingly sheer emotion that the music is clearly trying to bring.

Speaking of emotion, the album does a very solid job of carrying its hauntingly beauteous nature without losing its rawness or heaviness. "Unfold," for an example, makes an ethereal entrance with melodic guitar plucks before exploding into a black metal track that is just as emotionally powerful. Album opener "Like Falling Leaves" is raw black metal from the start, but has a subtle melody and atmosphere to it as well. Quiet or loud, "As the Stars" really knows how to deliver its emotion without having to sacrifice any of its structural value.

Each track is rather distinct from one another, which alone gives the album layers of variety without losing its identity. Despite this, however, the detriment that this record faces is that it does lose steam at times, with certain tracks standing out much better than others. This flaw is thankfully not enough to make "As the Stars" not enjoyable to listen to, however, though it is obviously distracting. The songs in general are rather well-paced and hold their ground firmly overall.

Even though "As the Stars" doesn't reach masterpiece levels, it's definitely a good appeal for the atmospheric black metal crowd. It's skill over ambiance and emotion is certainly worthy of praise, and there are some nice stand-outs peppered throughout the record. Black metal fans, as well as those looking for something that puts the 'atmosphere' in metal, will probably get invested here.

Score: 7.5/10 (Solid+)