2016’s Futility Report was a fine album, but when 2019’s Love Exchange Failure came along it really made its mark on the extreme metal landscape. Last year’s Debemur Morti teased us some new material, but now here’s the main event. So what does False Light hold for us?
False Light contains 66 minutes of new material, and sees the band once again continuing to advance their sound and style.
White Ward’s overall recipe is a tasty and intriguing mixture of post-black metal and avant-garde jazz. Sometimes one aspect or another gains prominence in the songs, but regardless of whatever the band are playing at any given time, it’s well worth hearing due to the sky-high quality levels. Salt Paradise, for example, sounds like it would be more at home on a Soulsavers record than a black metal one, but here it fits in perfectly due to the range and scope of False Light as an album.
The modern strand of melodic black metal that sits at the heart of much of White Ward’s output is sharp and lethal. Furious and aggressive, yet with melodic depth and beauty, this aspect of the band’s music is sleek and expressive. It doesn’t exist in a vacuum though, and White Ward are a lot more than simply a melodic black metal act.
This is a multifaceted, layered, and highly textured work. The band’s post-black metal has been broadened into avant-garde, post-rock, and experimental territories even further than previously. And let’s not forget the jazz elements, which are skilfully incorporated into the music by people who clearly know what they are doing. False Light also has a more brutal, heavier edge, with a selection of crushing riffs on display. It benefits from a darker, more aggressive demeanour in places, that emphasises the post- part of the post-black metal tag.
In addition to the above, the band flesh out their style with post-rock delicacy, jazz expression, textured electronica, vivid atmospherics, and reflective resplendence. The band’s saxophone is fully incorporated into the music and there are a range of different guests across the songs who contribute clean vocals, trumpet, double bass, and piano.
This is an exceptional album by an exceptional band, it’s as simple as that. White Ward have followed up their highly acclaimed second album with a work of art that has just as much ambition and ability to impress as Love Exchange Failure had.