Black metal as a genre has reached a point of saturation that nothing new really fazes me anymore (ok, not true, with new releases from bands like Deathspell Omega and the likes). However, once in a long while, a band like White Ward rear their ugly head when least expected, and here we are with their debut full length album, Futility Report, released none other than the excellent Debemur Morti Productions.
Deviant Shapes introduces one to a bleak, atmospheric soundscape, with spoken words that add to that haunting ambient, with some sense of underlying violence, not unlike the musical style on Futility Report. White Ward quickly kicks into high gear as soon as the short intro ends, and one is greeted with the post black metal sensibilities of bands such as Deafheaven or Harakiri from the Sky.
But what really sets White Ward apart from their other post metal peers is the inclusion of saxophones in their music. While the saxophones are certainly not subtle, they are also nowhere near as bombastic as bands like Sigh or Shining. Unlike some bands that add such elements purely for the sake of it, White Ward manages to incorporate this coherently, adding a sense of melancholy to the desolation that the rest of the band already presents. To further showcase their versatility, there’s even a small electronica/industrial portion towards the end of the title track, reinforcing the sense of unease in the listener.
Debemur Morti Productions describes Futility Report as an album that is like a metallic version of Ulver‘s Perdition City, and the description couldn’t be more apt. The overwhelming darkness that the band conjures, and the ability to incorporate more aggressive moments with melodic ones, just goes to prove White Ward‘s songwriting abilities. It fills me with great satisfaction (ironically) that albums like Futility Report are still being released to this day, giving hope to the somewhat stale scene these days.