I got my hard drive on “Grey Skies & Electric Light” , the now posthumous release of Woods of Ypres, the day after learning of singer David Gold’s death. It was set to be the band’s first album on Earache Records and put to rest message board babble of the band breaking up. the Canadian band was often tagged as being blackened Doom. Both black metal and or Doom felt like a misnomers , due to the more straight ahead hooky melodies that filled the void left by Type O Negative’s absence .
The weak opener “ Career Suicide ( is not real suicide)” could have been saved for a b-sides compilation. It spot lights their tragic flaw of looking back into 90’s alternative rock. Faith was restored by the second song “Travelling Alone” . The song’s feel is more of a logical progression from 2009’s “ Green Album” . The backing instrumentation on this track and through out the rest of the album stays solid if not adventurous.
Despite the sparse deviations into harsher vocals the album never muscles it’s way into territory heavier than an album like “ Slow , Deep and Hard “ . The mournful mood is best set in songs lending breathing room to piano and string arrangements. Even on the more ambitious pieces like “ Alternate Ending “ the Gold displayed his skill as a songwriter by not being bogged down by grandiosity like most post-“October Rust “ era Goth metal. The Peter Steely inflections are still present yet Gold has painted a clearer picture of his won narrative voice.
Where some metal bands fall into pretentious feigned melancholy, Gold had a certain honesty in his delivery. His voice is convincingly bleak , though more comfortable as a baritone , the awkward reaches for Micheal Gira-like low notes , on the outskirts of his range the only lapses into Hot Topic Nu Goth . Only on the song “ Modern Life Architecture” do the stumbles into this register inhibit the potential for melody. Gold’s voice always set the band apart and worked best layered with the double tracked harmony sections. The melodies marriage to the lyrical content makes up for this, as Gold was more contemplative and less pining. Morose and earnest pleas to the world around him, rather than the pseudo poetic musing of a post break up middle school cutter .
It is safe to say Ypres isn’t going to spurn an after death revival with this on as midway through the album my baby momma, asked why was i listening to the Crash Test Dummies. Fans of harder fare than Type o or Agalloch would find the band’s earlier work a more fitting entry point. Ypres existing fan base will find the album morbidly timely and a lyrical inscription on Gold’s headstone and fitting final chapter in the band’s legacy.