WOODTEMPLE


Feel the Anger of the Wind

Woodtemple - Feel the Anger of the Wind ©2002 No Colours
1. Intro
2. The Day Church Burnt
3. Feel The Anger Of The Wind
4. Darkness
5. The Crow Of The Shadow Wood
6. Outro

Following closely in the footsteps of one certain Graveland outfit, Austria's Woodtemple is a one-man project (albeit an effort occasionally fortified by a session musician) that trods heavily down the path of doom-laden epic black metal. Keen eared listeners will quickly pick up on the fact this band sounds an awful lot like a certain illustrious Polish group, particularly from Immortal Pride onwards. Woodtemple even bookends the album with ominous, majestic and perhaps triumphant keyboard intros and outros. The remaining songs are three very lengthy tracks and one short instrumental interlude. The long tracks have the unfortunate tendency to truly plod along. While Woodtemple is actually more adept at their instruments than the aforementioned Graveland (boy, you might be wondering just who this review is about by this point!), the songwriting for Feel the Anger of the Wind isn't particularly fascinating. The songs lack a real dynamic push to really keep things moving along in a meaningful fashion. It's not particularly great fun to listen to some guy go on and on about a church burning or some crow when the arrangement is simply a series of vanilla riffs.

As debuts go, this one is certainly mediocre, but not dreadfully awful. There are hints of potential throughout but none of that is quite realized on Feel the Anger of the Wind.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2008

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The Call From the Pagan Woods

Woodtemple - The Call From the Pagan Woods ©2004 No Colours
1. Intro
2. The Battle Of Eternal Hate
3. The Call From The Pagan Woods
4. The Realm Of Eternal Loneliness
5. Outro

A staple of science fiction has been the storyline where intrepid heroes get caught in some nefarious timeloop, forcing the victims to relive a snippet of time over and over (until some dashing actor or actress devises a solution at what seems like the last moment of hope). This happened to Bill Murray in Groundhog's Day and certainly every major character of Star Trek was involved in such a plot at one point or another.

Woodtemple's second release, The Call From the Pagan Woods, is much like being caught in such a temporal anomaly. The album only clocks in at forty-five minutes, a mere three-quarters of a single hour, but the nature of the music is such that time slows to a crawl while Woodtemple lumbers along with songs that never seem to go anywhere. If you don't include the intro and outro pieces, this album has exactly three songs taking up the bulk of the duration. Woodtemple, circa 2004 A.D., had not developed the songwriting to the point where the songs can be sustained for upwards of eighteen minutes. What you get is a plodding, meandering bore of an album that absolutely never gets to the point. I suppose it has something to do with a pine tree in the wintery forest of ancient times, or maybe some heroic deed of a sword wielding warrior, but the music never exactly encourages me to find out more.

The Call From the Pagan Woods is one I shall not answer. This is nothing more than a rehashed Graveland doppelganger with nowhere near enough dynamic musical ideas to credibly be called epic black metal.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2008

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Hidden in Eternal Shadow EP

Hidden in Eternal Shadow EP ©2005 No Colours
1. Hidden In Eternal Shadow
2. Tears Of The Forests

And finally, on this lengthy two song EP, Woodtemple finds themselves (himself?) and put out a good release. Having labored for a couple years in Graveland territory without a compass or identity, Woodtemple fixes the problems of the previous releases by expanding the sound slightly and finally figuring out how to be epic, not tiring.

The two tracks of Hidden in the Eternal Shadow are both well over ten minutes long and stick to the blueprint of previous Woodtemple albums, except finally being given some nice edifices to go on the foundation. My honest quick assessment (this is the one I pull out of my ass, FYI) is that Woodtemple exists in the space between Graveland and early Agalloch, although considerably more in the Graveland sphere of influence. For all I know, Woodtemple may think Agalloch are a bunch of fey art poseurs from that hippie mecca of Portland, Oregon, and actively throw darts at promo photos of that band. Anyhow, on this EP, Woodtemple adds in some clean guitar overdubs and greatly improve the overall structure of the songs. The dynamics are much improved, with the songs feeling like they're taking the listener somewhere, rather than limply suggesting, "I have riffs, let me show you them". The drumming is also tightened up a bit, which helps alleviate the clumsy factor that plagues any band associated with Graveland. (Is it possible to mention Graveland more without actually reviewing one of their albums?)

For those curious about Woodtemple, this is a pretty good point to hop into the catalogue. It is a marked improvement from earlier works and sets the stage for a better future.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2008

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Voices of Pagan Mountains

Woodtemple - Voices of Pagan Mountains ©2006 No Colours
1. Intro
2. Voices Of Pagan Mountains
3. Strains Of Eternal Sorrow
4. Wintertevu - Aktiekrant
5. Fire Of Our Swords
6. Outro

Woodtemple is back with yet another bloated slab of eastern European black metal. The slow ascent of Woodtemple has been characterized by longplayers suffering from an abundance of song length matched with underdeveloped songwriting ideas. The 2005 EP, Hidden in Eternal Shadow, finally upped the ante a bit with some improvements in the songwriting department, so why am I feeling so ambivalent about its follow up?

Voices of Pagan Mountains simply continues where the EP left off. The album features the obligatory pacing: intro track, a couple lengthy songs, a breather track, another epic song, and the outro. But I suspect that the major downfall of Voices of Pagan Mountains is simply that it's just too much of one thing. The EP came in, did its thing, and left before the party ended. However, Voices is more like that lonely guy who sticks around well after the rest of the guests have gone home and doesn't even bother to help with the cleanup. Sure, he was fun for awhile, but at some point, his presence grows tiresome. This album is much the same way. Though adequately produced and performed, it simply goes on and on like an economics professor droning about theories regarding commodity markets. Woodtemple exists as a one man project (that happens to outsource the drumming) so there apparently is no one to remind Aramath that often you can make the same musical point in half the time. Much like the band's earlier material, Voices of Pagan Mountains flounders due to an excess of similarities. At best, this is an average record that bogs down due to overstaying its welcome.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2008

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Sorrow of the Wind

Woodtemple - Sorrow of the Wind ©2008 Folk Produktion
1. Intro
2. Rise the Horns Up to Battle
3. The Shields Light
4. Path of the Runes
5. Sorrow of the Wind
6. Outro

You have to give credit to Woodtemple for sticking to their (his?) guns throughout the band's existence. Although the band has shown refinement of the basic musical concept, there has been very little variation from the band's debut to this, their latest offering. Singleminded doggedness certainly has its place, particularly if you're in the process of recoding fourteen hundred web pages. But in the musical world, that sort of thing can lead snotnosed hack journalists to use words such as "stagnant" and phrases such as "unable to progress".

As with every single Woodtemple release to date, Sorrow of the Wind plies the eastern European epic black metal trade, sticking to a formula that has been in play for every album. You get "intro" and "outro" mood/ambient tracks and then a couple extremely long songs that plod along without a huge amount of kinetic motion. Lately, Woodtemple has been breaking things up by throwing in another instrumental moody piece in the middle of the album, so perhaps that makes them feel they are progressing as a musical act. And that's to say nothing of the eagle (or is it a hawk) sound that has been sampled for the record! But, as with nearly all the band's releases, the song length fall into the Metallica trap of just going on and on for no good reason. Much of this material would have more impact being trimmed by thirty percent.

That said, Sorrow of the Wind is one of Woodtemple's best releases and if, for some reason, you have become a fan of this band or just think that Graveland styled longwinded metal is the apex of the heavy metal world, this could be worth your time. But for those who lack patience for metal men meandering through a recording session, Woodtemple is certainly not going to please.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2008

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