Hailing from Odessa, Ukraine, White Ward exist within the post-black metal scene, stirring experimental means to enhance the core of the genre, and push it forwards. Initially founded in 2012, the band has released a series of EPs and demos, taking five long years for their first complete work, Futility Report, to come into light. Being released through White Ward's Bandcamp page initially, the record intrigued the Debemur Morti label, home of historic acts like Blut Aus Nord and In The Woods…
At a time where there is a certain over-saturation of the post-black metal aesthetic and the reach of blackgaze capabilities, one can be fairly skeptical towards another band in that context. Sure enough, White Ward encompass a lot of the aspects of post-black methodology, merging the blackened riffology with the darker quality of post-rock in “Homecoming” or an underlying epic element in “Black Silent Piers.” Their work dwells mostly in the melodic side of the genre, providing numerous memorable phrases and lead work, enhanced with the inclusion of solos.
However, what really separates them and showcases a novel approach is their tendency towards jazz and electronica elements. The main force to this end is the magnificent saxophone, majestically appearing in key moments and transforming the experience. Acting as a counterweight to the powerful post-black riffs, the jazz themes warp the scenery, opening up passageways to neo-noir motifs, painting the background in darker colors and dimming down the lights. Smooth and with a lot of emotion in appears in “Deviant Shapes” traveling beyond the constriction of genres, or building a completely submerging experience in the interlude “Rain As Cure.”
Additional instrumentation at times is a hollow point, with unconventional instruments making a fleeting appearance or staying lost in the background, but that is not the case with White Ward. The sax is a vital part of their music, whole tracks are shifted towards the jazz themes where the sax is in the spotlight, dictating the mood and progression. But, that does not mean that integration is not in play as well. The ending of “Homecoming” and “Black Silent Piers” see the sax amidst the heavy riffs, cutting through and not compromising its vibe. It is not forced to fit within a given context, but rather exists as an intricate contradiction to the main structures.
It is the adaptability of White Ward that separates from the norm of the scene, their aptitude in switching between ambient parts, electronic notions using e-percussion, to post-black metal storms and then jazz narratives. Futility Report navigates successfully through all these diverse concepts, building expectation for what comes next, no matter if that is a complete drop from the reality of the record or a smooth transition.
8.1 / 10
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