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Thursday, March 5, 2015

White Willow - Storm Season (Expanded Edition)

This is one of the next reissues of the expanded edition’s from one of White Willow’s catalog on the Termo label that is their fourth album and follow up to Sacrament entitled, Storm Season. Originally released on The Laser’s Edge label eleven years ago, it shows White Willow moving from the gentle, folk, and pastoral sounds into a sinister and darker approach that makes it a straightforward record. With the addition of Lars Fredrik Frosilie who brought in his analog sound with the synths, organs, and the Mellotron to come on board, the band went into a heavier sound.

It is almost like the soundtrack of the futuristic atmosphere of a dystopian society gone wrong where it was and the people who were once helpful, turned almost into insanity that is the nightmare they are living in and the music fits the vibe on the lyrics that are strong and raw. Opener, Chemical Sunset begins with a haunting flute introduction featuring a swirling moog and choral voices setting the tone as Sylvia’s voice sends shivers down the spine as the music goes into a classical folky section mixed in with some of the harder edges thanks to the guitars going into that area that flows in very well.

Sally Left resembles an electronic and emotional yet nightmarish touch with a darker version of early Pink Floyd while Soulburn featuring vocalist Finn Coren, whose voice reminded me of Van Der Graaf Generator’s Peter Hammill. It features some of the heavier guitars, dooming bass lines and unexpected keyboard moments as if someone is creeping up behind you, has a Doom-Prog touch.

Almost as if it could have been used during the sessions for either The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other or Pawn Hearts, but it is a powerful song that will make you take notice. As I’ve mentioned, the band have a folkier side. Which they haven’t forgotten on the short piece, Endless Science that has an acoustic and moog/mellotron vibe that gives the band a break for their ominous side and get back into a relaxation for a short moment.

Insomnia begins with the line “The End of the Night seems so long and hard to bear/And the blood upon my hands cannot be my own.” Sylvia sings it so beautifully and you could tell White Willow show a little bit of their VDGG side on this composition as Lars and drummer Aage Moltke Schou do this amazing improvisation before Sylvia and the piano come in to give them a little break for a few minutes and then the band comes in for a closing finale as Marther Berger Walthinsen’s bass just nails it on each moment he goes in a different part of the lines on the fret.

It goes into the styles of King Crimson and a darker spacey finale to close it off with an ominous tone that just gave me goosebumps at the end. The title track is a surreal composition that Syliva’s voice goes into a double-tracking vocal and the guitar is going through a backwards tape and the Mellotron coming in through some passages as the closer, Nightside of Eden sees the band back into the harder edge with a Doom Metal approach, but keeping the touches of the Prog area fit in.

The three bonus tracks that are on here feature the demos of the songs Nightside of Eden and Sally Left done in a different key while the outtake, Headlights which was originally released on the Japanese pressing on the album, is a driven midtempo hard rocking yet almost spaced out adventure into the stars that reminded me of the Hemispheres-era of Rush.

When Storm Season was released, it was the best selling album to date of 2004 on The Laser’s Edge label. And for me, I had a blast listening to the entire album twice and it showed how much they approved their sound. And for me, this is a crowning achievement that they have unleashed and if you enjoyed their first three albums, Storm Season is a highly recommended album to really sink into.

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