Long time music reviewers all have to deal with the possibility of burnout. You get so much thrown at you, it becomes increasingly difficult to be moved by a piece of music. In the metal realm, you hear a lot of “good” stuff that is pleasing but soon forgot. More rarely, you encounter a real headbanger that gets your blood flowing. But still it doesn’t enter the realm of something profound, of music that really opens your eyes and inspires. Those kind of records come along very, very rarely.
Here is one that transcends the metal tag. I had no idea of who WHITE WARD were, and the hype on the PR sheet for Love Exchange Failure ran off of me like water off a duck’s back. Well, the hype is spot on this time. This mysterious outfit from Ukraine have come up with a sound that defies easy categorization and which actually reaches deep into the human condition. It is something extremely moving that makes use of metal in a new way, but which also touches on many other kinds of music.
The band specializes in long tracks that are real journeys. They make frequent use of saxophone and piano throughout the course of Love Exchange Failure and do it in the most innovative ways. A lot of WHITE WARD’s sound is a kind of smoky, film noir jazz that brings to mind a rainy city at 3 AM in the morning. It is sad trenchcoat and fedora music. And then they can shift into absolutely hair-raising, face-ripping black metal complete with feral screams. I had the impression WHITE WARD was something like a post-metal band. Well, that aspect is there, but the ferocious black metal parts took me completely by surprise…this is GORGOROTH intensity BM, but much more involved. The opening title track segues amazingly from a long slow jazz motif into just such a black metal barrage. And the saxophone is still there during the black metal.
Of such pendulum like swings is the record made. But there’s more to it even than that. There’s some amazing melodicism on show as well, something like OPETH’s melodic death/prog moments. There are melodies in ‘Poisonous Flowers Of Violence’ and ‘No Cure For Pain’ that will break your heart – and my heart is pretty hard to break. That slow and heavy post-metal mood is here, too, and it matches the best that bands like THE OCEAN and CULT OF LUNA can come up with.
There are a couple of spots where the jazz and piano was emphasized a bit too much for me to grab onto…’Shelter’ being one example…but when you listen to this opus as a whole, everything clicks, everything makes sense. There’s a lot of depth to this, a lot of chances to discover new shades upon further investigation.
To cut to the quick, WHITE WARD have conjured up something quite unique here. Something that goes beyond just metal and is more like music as a whole. Check it out.
Review By: Dr. Abner Mality
Love Exchange Failure
Debemur Morti Productions
6 / 6