Curse is the second full-length album by UK atmospheric black metal act Wodensthrone. The album was released in 2012, three years after the band’s debut album Loss (2009). Wodensthrone, like their countrymen Winterfylleth, belong to the nature themed division of black metal. Actually they have a lot in common with each other, Wodensthrone and Winterfylleth, as Wodensthrone’s vocalist/guitarist Wildeþrýð used to be with the other band and performed on the group’s debut album The Ghost of Heritage (2008), and both create atmospheric black metal to explore similar themes. Wodensthrone however, unlike Winterfylleth, set a much better impression with their 2012 offering than Winterfylleth did with The Threnody of Triumph, a decent but generally unmemorable album.
That’s something that’s pretty clear after just a single listen to Curse. On paper, the two bands are very much on the same page, but during the album Wodensthrone show themselves very much the superior band. Curse is atmospheric black metal as you ought to expect it to be; something to lose yourself in, although I do like that the band breaks away from the genre at times to include much calmer sections of music, drawing heavily on folk music. They have a sense for melody, but don’t lack for the rawness that black metal is associated with. It is, simply put, absolutely stunning and absorbing to listen to.
However so was Winterfylleth on The Threnody of Triumph. So what makes Curse a much better example of this brand of black metal? Well for a start those folk influences I mentioned add a nice extra layer to the music which wasn’t evident on The Threnody of Triumph, but the major difference is something I mentioned near the start of this review; The Threnody of Triumph just wasn’t memorable. It was very enjoyable while listening to it, but unlike Curse it utterly failed to leave a lasting impression to make me want to keep going back to it, while Curse on the other hand does just the opposite.
Right, the mentions of Winterfylleth are over. The rest of this review will be given over to the album at hand alone. Not that I really have much left to say. Curse is simply one of those must own albums of its genre, featuring sprawling tracks of black metal brilliance, more than enough variation to keep it fresh through an over an hour’s duration, and honestly the best atmosphere I’ve heard out of a black metal release since, well, ever I suppose, although the work of another UK band, Fen, is also worth a mention for being high quality, however Fen draws a lot more on post-rock and the recent blackgaze style. At the time of writing though, Fen haven’t impressed me on quite the level of what Wodensthrone have done with Curse, but between the two along with the more wacky avant-garde act A Forest of Stars and, giving them the benefit of the doubt, perhaps Winterfylleth as well given I haven’t heard the band’s first two albums, I’m quite proud to say that the UK has become a major player in the field of atmospheric black metal, and Wodensthrone is the band leading the charge. From the gentle opening introduction The Remaining Few to the thirteen and a half minute closer The Name of the Wind, Curse is pure testament to Wodensthrone’s abilities. A top tier rating is deserved. There have been some great black metal releases in 2012, but if you had to limit yourself to just one of them, then do yourself a favour and make that one Curse.
(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven (http://metaltube.freeforums.org))