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Odessa black metallers White Ward released one of the best albums of the year in Ukraine


By the materials of Slukh

The pride of the Ukrainian metal scene, Odessa White Ward, released their third album “False Light”. In it, musicians expand the boundaries of their unique sound even more than before through new experiments.

Heavily conceptual and rich with meaning, the 8 dystopian tracks use overarching inspiration from “Intermezzo“, a 1908 impressionistic novel by the Ukrainian author Mykhailo Kotsubinsky – in addition to works by Beat-writer Jack Kerouac and psychoanalyst Carl Jung – to explore government-sanctioned murders, imminent environmental catastrophes, police brutality, domestic abuse, the psychic emptiness of cities, falsity of modern mainstream culture and ill-effects of overconsumption.

I wrote texts for two years, constantly changing. At some point, I realised that it would be cool to rethink such important work for Ukrainian literature, to be inspired by it for texts. The main leitmotif of the album is a trip from the city to the countryside, nature. And this is what happened at Intermezzo.

Andriy Pechatkin, White Ward bassist, vocalist and lyricist

Always surprising and never less than captivating, from a base of rhythmically creative, furiously melodic Black and Death Metal the band shape-shift through a vivid suite of songs-as-journeys: seamlessly utilising hues of brass-led darkjazz and stately post-rock, foregrounding the evocative contributions of guesting clean vocalists in passages redolent of gothic Americana/post-punk and integrating virtuosic guitar leads, textural electronics and atmospheric sample-work.

The album opens with a 13-minute opus by Leviathan, which sets the mood for the whole work. The cinematic, almost entirely acoustic song Salt Paradise paints a picture of a gothic western in its head, Cronus initially sounds like a reference post-punk track.

White Ward twists rhythms and moods, going from guitar roar to solo on trumpet and saxophone, from shouting to singing, they sound grandiose, restrained, percussive, and hard, but at the same time melodic.

The new album White Ward has once again confirmed the status of one of the world’s most progressive black metal bands. Odessans have carved out their recognisable style, which is already worth a lot, but with each album, they manage to find new forms of self-expression and surprise.

Even though not many albums are released in Ukraine this year, and musicians are more often expressed in individual songs, “False Light” is a multi-layered success story – perfectly balancing tension and traction, restraint and resurgence, fatalism and focus into an indispensable record from a stunning band at the top of their game.

Listen to the album on digital platforms: Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube Music, Deezer. It can also be purchased at Bandcamp.