White Ward - False Light

03 Jul 2022 - Thorsten

Avantgarde Black Metal, Jazz Metal, Post-Punk | Debemur Morti Productions | Release date: 17 Jun 2022 | Favorite song: Leviathan

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“Cronus“ and “Downfall“ will be the tracks that many former fans rally against when it comes to the latest record by Ukrainian extreme metal masters White Ward. That these fans never really understood what this band is about and why these two tracks function perfectly in the context of this more than open-minded band must be explained in detail. Nevertheless, one thing is sure - False Light will be one of the most talked about records of 2022!

In 2019, the band from Odessa literally jumped onto the international scene with their second full-length Love Exchange Failure and its iconic cover work and gently pushed away the seemingly clearcut boundaries between Jazz and Black Metal. The border that had already eroded because of bands like Imperial Triumphant or Rivers of Nihil, but the way that the band from close to the Crimea peninsula has done is equally none-compromising when it comes to the black metal as well as the jazz elements. Both sides are treated equally respectful and are combined in as clever a way as can be because with some other bands the jazz elements and the black metal elements are not really combined but somewhat separated from each other. On White Ward songs that’s not the case as both sides (and many more on the new record as well) support each other and make it much more interesting for the listener to follow their musical development. Sometimes you will find the saxophone embedded dead center in a black metal attack using its free jazz possibilities to support the tornado; vice versa there are moments, when the saxophone leads the soundscape until the death metal rumblings emerge from beneath it and take over but never drown out the former mood and main instrument played so wonderfully by Dima Dudko.

False Light presents some new elements to the White Ward mix and some of those are based on industrial shoegaze like the beginning of ”Phoenix” which would also be a brilliant track for Denis Villeneuve’s second part of his Dune-adaptation. The track has this flirring industrial vibe at the beginning which is accompanied by some sweaty seductive saxophone parts and when the riff hits after circa 95 seconds it is clear that this ”Phoenix” has just died and that this part is the lament for the beaming legendary bird. And after roughly 120 seconds the deep growl by singer Yurii Kazarian ignites the bird’s new energy-filled life.

The record also has an interesting over-arching theme as it draws inspiration from an early-20th-century dystopian novel from Ukrainian writer Mykhailo Kotsubinsky called Intermezzo. Other literary influences on the lyrics written by second vocalist and bass player Andrii Pechatkin are C.G. Jung and Jack Kerouac, both somewhat controversial authors which might also explain their allure for bands like White Ward. Sometimes, the storyline on False Light is narrated or sung-screamed by other vocalists as well, including the ever-radiating Jay Gambit (vocals on the very ambient filled dream-track ”Salt Paradise”) or Andy Symonds who delivers the clean vocals on the title track. But the most frequent guest vocalist on this record is surely Vitaly Havrilenko, who lends his vocals to exactly half of the eight tracks, and whose deep vocals turn a track like ”Cronus” into such a miraculously authentic post-punk. Another instance of the perfectly embedded little novelties on this record where seemingly everything just makes sense. Nothings seems out of place or disrespected – something that not all extreme metal bands can say about their tracks and records.

By the way, any fan who complains about the open character of the tracks, about the highly dense atmosphere on False Light has never understood what defines extreme metal: it’s not just about being really good instrumentalists playing extreme difficult and fast-paced music – but it’s about the being open to new ideas and new elements which are introduced on a record in order to keep the whole project fresh for everyone involved. Extreme metal is defined by an extreme respect for any kind of music and an open-arms-attitude when it is about incorporating different sounds into your songs.

In that sense and in many, many others this record is one hot candidate for THE record of 2022 because it takes that next step and still doesn’t stray from the path too much. This is still White Ward as we all know and love it – but it is not just a simple copy of its predecessor, it is another developmental step of a band that seems destined for greatness! Top10 material – so spread the word and tell your friends that they need this album in their lives!