Futility Report by White WardRelease date: May 12, 2017
Label: Debemur Morti Productions
Post-metal is an ever-evolving sound full of bands who play on nuances and distinctive styles, even mixing elements from various genres to pulp up and make their sound more wide reaching. Ukraine’s White Ward load in a few styles to their eclectic arsenal and to add further flare they chuck in a saxophonist for extra pomp. Alexey Iskimzhi’s contribution to this album is no less than outstanding, but is debut full-length Futility Report more than just sax-infused post-metal?
‘Deviant Shapes’ opens with a sound byte from the movie Jacob’s Ladder, perfectly setting the scene before leaping boundless into blast beats and buzzing tremolo riffs backed by vocalist Andrew Rodin’s blackened croaks. At 2.30 Iskimzhi’s saxophone eases us into a warm bath of chillaxation for a rather lengthy segment of the track, with deep vibrant 80s bass and the tuneful patter of drums for company. It’s a serene moment which consumes you along with the noir atmos the beginning and end of this track portrays where we are once more sunk into the mire of more deviant musical shapes.
There’s a stunning moment on second track ‘Stillborn Knowledge’ where blast beats and wild tremolo picking is joined by Iskimzhi’s saxophone to play in glorious unison, forming one of the albums most exquisite highlights and sending one into a thoughtful, almost meditative state. Hints of the ambient as well as Americanised nu-metal flavours come through, with all fragments playing an integral part in this boundless beast, making this 8 minutes pass by with utter joy.
This isn’t full-on black metal with walls of unrelenting violence, chaos-strewn guitar labyrinths and incessant blasting. In fact there’s barely a blast beat to be heard so savour them when they appear if you’re anything like me. This is smart metal. Sophisticated. Debonair. Gentleman’s metal painted in noir shades. I can imagine a few well-conducted corpse-painters listening to the purely instrumental ‘Rain As Cure’ whilst clicking their black-painted fingers along to the tune.
The titular ‘Futility Report’ closes the album with its most black metal song. Solemn strumming and ambience opens the final track to be joined by melodic plucks that transform into a more upbeat procession of ground-pounding metal until icy black riffs and precise blasting fill the chill air. The song moves into epic Maiden-esque riffing before climaxing with daring and strangely welcome trip-hop beats which cresendo to a distorted end. An odd but satisfying finish.
The big draw (and one of many) to Futility Report is its use of saxophone, but this is not what defines it. Never does it over-shadow the other instruments but serves to instead colour the songs with richer elements. With such creative pastels in the works and its abundance of nuaces, time changes and interweaving themes, the only gripe I have with this stunning release is the lack of diverse vocals given the fact that each song is a journey through various styles it would be nice to hear clean vocals, for example backed by the soothing melt of Iskimzhi’s sax interludes.
This record has an abundance of memorable elements swirling about its six stunning tracks. From mainstream sounds to blackened experimentation and emotive melodies to tremendous blast beats and dizzying riffs to the mellow syrupy drool of the albums moments of freedom and clarity. Futility Report is one of those albums that makes reviewing both blissful and difficult as really there are no words to do this album justice. There is so much staggering depth, beauty and heart that this release simply calls out to be heard. White Ward have made Futility Report a glorious concoction of post black metal with an infusion of jazz greatness that truly turns an already slick album into a modern metal masterpiece… mmm nice!