Woland, from Helsinki, Finland, describe themselves as a modern post black Metal band and state that the inspiration behind their music and lyrics is not tied to specific events nor does it follow any single dogma.
They are heavily influenced by some of the modern world's most prominent philosophers and writers as well as inspired by mythology with its Gods and heroes.
The band formed in 2010 and this full length debut album, 'Hyperion', features wide ranging elements from Flamenco guitar to jazz piano, giving it a slightly unusual feel and also it has additional vocals from Geir Bratland (Dimmu Borgir), Mathias 'Vreth' Lillmåns (Finntroll) and Janica Lönn (Black Sun Aeon).
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The album was recorded in the bands own studio, allowing them to experiment with newer production techniques that they can also use in live settings.
Their sound is quite polished but I not overly so, they have excellent, raspy, black Metal vocals and distorted riffs, making it a good listen. My only tiny issue is it might be a little too safe and restrained to bear the moniker "black" at times.
They do have some good riffs here and there, so much so that I would have liked more. I also like the adventurous use of jazz piano and Spanish guitar as well as sound-bites and other outside of the genre elements.
Beginning with 'Conquer All' with its distorted sound-bite opener that builds quickly and the chugging opening riff which offers a lot of promise. It's an intense, engaging listen, heavily drenched in blackened influences making this a positive start to the album.
I feel there is a lot of powerful potential to unleash, hidden beneath the surface. There is no denying the talent contained here; it's just a tiny bit restrained at times but when it does break out, such as on 'Extacy And Rapture' (yes they have spelt it this way, it's not a typo by me), it's good, although the clean vocals on this track didn't float my goat.
'Art Of Ascension' is up tempo and a good listen, a lot of keyboards here and on other tracks but they work well and there's great guitar break towards the close.
'Living Water' was released as a single earlier in 2014, just before the album and has some fabulous guitar work towards the latter part. There is a wonderfully sinister edge and prominent, low tuned bass, on 'None', one of the standout tracks for me.
The piano drop-away midway on 'Live Forever' is a bit flowery to begin with and didn't make sense at first but as it develops and becomes more off kilter, jazz based and mixed with distorted chugging guitars it does and also gets interesting. The track ends on some stunning deep vocal elements.
Final track 'Elevated Existence' is quite a powerful offering; it's varied, interesting, well constructed, with broad ranging vocals and engaging guitar work that is heavily drenched in great riffs and equally great drum work.
I can appreciate what the band are trying to achieve and in many ways this is just the beginning of an ongoing work in progress so we need to look to the bigger picture here, it will be interesting to hear what comes next.