Album Title: Wisdom through Agony into Illumination and Lunacy
This is the first full-length record from W.A.I.L., a Finnish band playing doomy black/death metal.
The production on this record is perfect: bass-heavy and spacious, with a guitar and bass sound somewhere between old Candlemass and Necromantia. The vocals are filthy and raspy, with a touch of reverb, and remind me of their fellow countrymen, Hail. The drumming is nice and crisp, as are the additional instruments, and the keyboard parts are subtle and appropriate.
In terms of songwriting, this record expands upon the two songs from the demo (the pounding, crushing heaviness of "Wisdom" and the ritualistic, off-kilter "Agony") by adding a haunting intro and two new epics. The first few minutes of "Illumination" combine stunning drum work with mesmerizing, repetitive guitar and bass lines and swampy vocals. Then it segues into a swaggering heavy-metal section, complete with guitar solo, which devolves into a weird, oppressive piano/keyboard breakdown. Somehow the whole thing works -- and as a part of a concept album, no less! -- and the end result feels surprisingly cohesive. I especially like the last few minutes, which break into a loping Varathron-style jog.
Then there's "Lunacy", which serves up several minutes of nimble guitar lines before introducing a haunting solo violin part... something most bands can't even pull off, much less with this sort of effortless aplomb. The echoing, double-tracked vocals here are also great! After another minute or two, the violin comes back in for a frantic, almost schizophrenic solo, and then the song slows down to almost nothing, leaving only the bass, guitar, and a few atmospheric drums. After one last crazy, thrashing section, one of the most ingenious guitar lines on the record comes in to lead it out.
W.A.I.L. sound a little like old Greek and Czech bands, a little like old doom bands, and a little like Barathrum or Hail... but they mostly just sound like themselves, and you don't hear that much these days. The songwriting on this album is unique, heavy, and fearless; any fan of black metal should find something to enjoy here. Highly recommended.
Standout Tracks: "Wisdom", "Lunacy"