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Whispering Woods : Perditus Et Dea

Whispering Woods' sophomore straddles the Symphonic/Gothic Metal and Gothic/Doom borders very nicely.

If I were to tell you that Romania's Whispering Woods were an eight piece metal band containing only a single guitar player, bassist and drummer, you may be wondering how they fill out the rest of their ranks. When I tell you that they do so with flute, soprano and mezzo soprano female vocalists, and two keyboard players, you may begin to guess what kind of band we are dealing with here. Whispering Woods mix metal and classical instruments and compositions to create a sound equal parts heavy riffs and double kick drums and operatic vocals and piano/flute duets.

Now it is questionable whether this even falls under the category of Doom at all, but for me there are several songs that capture the same feeling as the debut The 3rd and the Mortal album 'Tears Laid in Earth', especially 'Autumnal' and 'Poetica', the first of which contains a real earworm of a riff that I was humming for days, as well as excellent duelling flute and guitar solos! As The 3rd and the Mortal had three guitarists, Whispering Woods have to take a slightly different approach, but with the flute, soprano and mezzo soprano vox in addition to the guitar, there are no shortage of lead instruments when complicated multi part harmonies are required.

Still, the record is clearly rooted very much in Symphonic/Gothic Metal. These are not genres that I have delved into very deeply (more my wife's sort of thing), but to this doomster at least, 'Perditus Et Dea' is much more enjoyable than some of the more commercial bands (Nightwish et al) that I have been exposed to. It certainly has a decent amount of crunching riffs and melancholic atmospheres, and I doubt I am the only doom fan who would enjoy it.

The key ingredient that makes the record for me though is the flute. There are no prog rock histrionics here (not that that is a bad thing!), just beautifully played sweet melodies. I would have to say that some of my very favourite moments on the record are when things are stripped down to just a lone piano and the flute, such as on 'If Ever'. The vocals too are extremely strong, and I suspect both vocalists are from classically trained backgrounds, as the number of rock vocalists I have met who can do a fraction of what is achieved here is exactly zero.

In fact there is no instrument on the record that is not performed flawlessly. This is mirrored by the incredibly slick and polished production. As the record was mixed and mastered by Finland's Hiili Hiilesmaa who has worked with various well known acts such as HIM, Apocalyptica and Amorphis, it should probably come as no surprise that it sounds completely professional. Were it not for the far too interesting compositions, it could easily be played on mainstream metal TV!

The main issue I have with the record is that (for me at least) it is all a little bit TOO epic, symphonic and grandiose. I suspect this is what they were going for, but I find it hard to take in large doses. I think it is mainly the vocals that cause this, as they are blasted at almost full strength throughout. I think if more contrast were created with more passages of softer singing, as on closer 'Dea', it would certainly improve the record to my ears.

All in all this is a great record with top notch production, musicianship and songwriting all round. I feel it is fair to say that if Whispering Woods were from Scandinavia or Germany they would be seeing good levels of success playing around Europe by now. Hopefully they can overcome their slight geographical disadvantage and take their place at the top table where they belong.

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Reviewer's rating: 8.5/10


Tracklist :
1. Perditus
2. Original Sin
3. Demon Blood
4. Calusarii
5. Autumnal
6. My Altar
7. Farewell Ladybug
8. Poetica
9. If Ever
10. Timeless
11. Circle Complete
12. Dea

Duration : Approx. 66 minutes

Visit the Whispering Woods bandpage.

Reviewed on 2015-03-23 by Kris Clayton
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