From the opening feedback through to the final jagged notes, Wound Upon Wound’s crushing debut clocks in at just over 50 minutes of uncompromising bleakness and brutality. All the necessary ingredients are on hand for a solid dose of black/doom metal: guttural vocals with a range from the near subsonic to a harrowing wail, a solid deep low end that rarely shows off but is never guilty of being tied to the rudiments and a duelling guitar force that ably blends intricacy with brutality. Opening track “I Become” sets the template for what is to follow, a work that is unafraid to explore the textures and corners of the compositions recorded therein with no track except for the interlude “Eulogy” clocking in at less than 5 and a half minutes yet none overstay their welcome.
As a debut it is not without its faults, with the second track’s latter half segwaying into a tempo change that suits neither the mood of the song or the album overall, a sign perhaps, of not quite knowing where to go with the sound on display here. This however, appears to have been remedied since the album’s recoding as their live show offers up no such signs of weakness and absolutely no digression from the punishing onslaught that Wound Upon Wound are honing in so clinically upon.
A perfect headphones album or one for a drive taken alone (although preferably not after having had a serious argument with someone) but what sets this apart from other works within a genre that while albeit extreme, is certainly not without its disciples? Simply put, it’s believable. Although most of the lyrics are indecipherable or inaudible like many precursors, the mood at hand in this debut speaks to something steeped in genuine emotion and not mere adolescent rage. Furthermore, the guitar work here is superb, it never shows off but never regresses to boneheaded powerchord posturing. Overall it is a work that unashamedly displays influences beyond the realm of black/doom metal, at once referencing contemporaries like Deafheaven and Cult of Luna and forebears like Mayhem and Burzum while also seemingly calling to mind acts like ASIWYFA, Mogwai and Refused in the way the guitars harmonise beautifully while still maintaining a crushing heaviness especially on “Awakening” and “Every Tongue Shall Confess”. Wound Upon Wound’s self-titled debut is available for free download (http://wounduponwound.bandcamp.com/) on their bandcamp right now so any self-respecting fan of music ranging within the heavy and extreme to experimental has no excuse not to check this out.
Crushingly bleak, unmissable.