White Ward – Love Exchange Failure (Review)

White Ward - Love Exchange FailureThis is the second album from White Ward, a Ukrainian post-black metal band.

2017’s Futility Report was striking and enjoyable, mixing cold black metal with an avant-garde modern edge. Compared to Love Exchange Failure, however, it’s almost as if Futility Report was the prototype of this new album. Expanded and with a wider range to roam than previously, Love Exchange Failure contains 67 minutes of White Ward’s idiosyncratic blackened vision. If you thought Futility Report was good, (and it really was), then you’ll simply adore Love Exchange Failure.

The progression from one album to the next is notable and impressive, and it’s clear that White Ward have taken the time to really think about what they want to achieve. The songs on this new album are much longer on average than the ones on the band’s debut record, and the time is well spent. The style of the previous album has been fleshed out further, and developed into something really quite special.

The saxophone is once more used very effectively, never sounding jarring or out of place. Instead, it merges effortlessly into the band’s overall musical framework. The same can be said of the keyboards and piano that appear too. The band have undergone some lineup changes since their debut album, and the main blackened screams are performed by a different singer than the one on Futility Report. You’ll find no complaints from me, however, as the new vocals fit the music perfectly. Additionally, multiple guest clean vocalists appear across the final three tracks, adding real value when they appear.

The music is atmospheric and refined, blending black metal and non-blackened genres into a textured and multifaceted release. The harshness of the base blackened style is mixed in with avant-garde experimentation, nuanced creative flourishes, and post-rock expressive noir. White Ward are not a black metal band that are including atmospheric and post-rock elements into their music; it’s more than this. Rather, they are a post-black metal band in the truest sense of the term; their music is a fusion of styles and genres, all incorporated into songs that take what they want, when they want, from where they want. The end result is then presented forward for the listener to absorb and become lost in, which is easily done with music of this calibre.

Full of emotive content and an epic, accomplished delivery, Love Exchange Failure has a heart of beautiful darkness that it wishes to share with the world. I urge you to give it a thorough and comprehensive listen, as it’s a shockingly high quality album.

Very highly recommended.

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