White Ward – Futility Report (2017)

That’s a risky bet to combine saxophone to metal. Obviously, everything can’t be mixed together and experimentations are rarely conclusive but it’s worth the try. There were some attempts that sometimes worked well like Die Alone from A PALE HORSE NAMED DEATH and sometimes it doesn’t as with Everyday’s Pox from NAPALM DEATH. As for now, only Italians ZU have truly achieve to sublimate this musical instrument to their avant-garde music, which may have reached some ears with Mike Patton’s featuring on Carboniferous album.

With Futility Report as first record after five years being, Ukrainians WHITE WARD offer an experimental Metal alternating between sharp riffs and airier moments. The whole is balanced with a saxophone subtly inlayed on an already rich musical landscape. Stillborn Knowledge sees its bass playing emphasized by the drums spreading throughout the intro before the incoming flood, then mixed with a rising smooth sax, as well as Futility Report and its slowly start. The instrumental is accompanied by a sparse Post Metal-like voice unfortunately lacking of deepness. This reflects its modularity weakness whatever the rhythm, so it’s not able to rightly shade the music. It may confuse at first sight but the singing can be easily concealed by the skilled and efficient soli that fall well within the chosen vibe, while the rhythmic burdens the whole over a modern Black Metal horizon.

The outcome is quite mixed in which half of each song can be forgotten. There is a bad filling feeling as if there was free time for the artists to recover between two sessions of true musical compositions. Homecoming and Black Silent Piers only wake up during the second part for their forthcoming outros, unleashing all the accumulated frustration over an explosion of chords where lead guitar and bass are fencing together before being joined by the saxophone as a third-party.

The Ruthenes big lack lies nevertheless in their transitions which are sometimes too much abrupt, particularly when they want to bring a more quiet ambience. This happens all of a sudden and thus since Deviant Shape : after a long intro and only a few seconds of music later, we face a wall of silence. Futility Report should have ended before the sixth minute as the record closure finishes roughly before resuming on fuzzy electronic tones. What a pity about this bitter aftertaste whereas the song concluded on a cyclonic outburst of melodic notes. The rhythmic unfortunately shades abruptly too often before the hurricane’s eye of the sax’s fifteen minutes of fame. On the other hand, the latter is rapidly caught up by the rest of the orchestra in which the fusion is gradual and bring a true harmony to the whole.

In addition, if the saxophone was not introduced to the band, the latter would be an regular avant-garde one. The woodwind instrument appends to be a true added value to WHITE WARD with this aerophone which knows how to remain humble towards the rhythmic, but to also reveal all of its skills when necessary. So this is a mixed feeling for the Rus’ first record yet not bereft of good times and giving the desire to listen again and look forward.

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