A cursory glance at ColdWorld’s discography would suggest an artist that doesn’t quite know what he wants to do with the project. Bursting into the underground scene in the mid to late 2000s with The Stars Are Dead Now and Melancholie², ColdWorld presented a deeply wintry, desolate sound à laPaysage d’Hiver. Eight years later they produced Autumn, a record of vastly sunnier disposition that explored contemplative post rock builds and cathartic climaxes. And now, from the bowels of the COVID-19 pandemic, is born an album again wildly different from all of its predecessors. Isolation.
Isolation is the most firmly rooted in depressive black metal in ColdWorld’s discography. At first it seems too normal. It immediately displays the same grandeur that acts like Sombres Forets have, reaching for welling ambience, lonely clean tones, and sweeping violins to accompany the traditional tremolo riffs. The melodies ebb and flow and build and climax with a familiarity, but there is nonetheless something greatly affecting in them. The tone is endlessly grey despite its beauty. Neither does it reach for the deep winter nor the lingering warmth of a fading autumn, but resides in a place between or without either.
For as many words have already been spent on the effect of the pandemic on music, Isolation cannot go unremarked on. Dozens of albums have been produced from the lockdown period, but here is one that most profoundly resonates that experience. Most strikingly, the vocals are consistently scarce across the album. ‘Soundtrack to Isolation’ has no singing to speak of across its eight minutes. ‘Walz’ features only a few yearning shrieks. ‘We Are Doomed’ has droning chants and that’s it. There is a silence that hangs over the music, that underpins the soul-rending melodies, and it speaks volumes to every person that had months or years of their lives stolen by circumstance. And yet, from the bowels of closing track ‘Hymnus’ springs a fevered, fiery sendoff that speaks of resistance and hope at a time when that is in short supply.
Isolation is out now via Eisenwald and can be ordered here.
Words: Brett Tharp