6/26/17 – White Ward “Futility Report” (2017)

I’m still catching up on ’16 and ’17 music, and after a spree of music collection I’m slowly catching up to everyone else. First up is Futility Report by Ukranian Black Metal group White Ward. Black Metal isn’t something I normally flock to but this was highly recommended so I checked it out. What I wasn’t prepared for was the inclusion of the Saxophone in their music. That in itself sounds like a cheap gimmick to distance the band from the rest of the pack, but they do so much more than throw a Sax on top of the mix. There’s a strange dichotomy where they create something completely new in the Black Metal genre yet stay completely within it’s bounds. The Sax feels both totally out of place but also natural, and feels even more natural with every repeat listen. The shock of the unusual sound wears off, but the fascination and admiration does not.

Nearly every song on Futility Report is quite lengthy, including the opener Deviant Shapes, but does not feel so. It starts off with a loose, jazzy loop with some disturbing vocal samples before exploding into a fantastic Black Metal blast of sound. I like how clean the drums and bass are, especially with how distorted and rough the guitars are. Singer Andrew Rodin has a great scream, and it’s a small joy for me that it’s yelled in English, and is also coherent. Then out of nowhere they change gears (and genres) with a groovy Jazz beat. This song also establishes their Post-Rock like guitar solos, but it’s another thing that isn’t just slapped on, they do it better than a lot of pure Post-Rock bands do. Stillborn Knowledge expands on those solos, it builds slowly to them but the payoff is so worth it, it’s both technically impressive and very moving. They’re both surpassed by the brilliant Homecoming. The final solo at the end is foreshadowed at the start, and it’s got to be my favorite moment in the entire album. The Sax is also now completely conjoined with the Black Metal and at this point feels completely natural. In just a few days I’ve listened to this song on repeat at least 10 times and it gives me shivers every time.

The intensity is appropriately turned down right afterward for the moody smooth Jazz of Rain As Cure. It acts like an intermission because the breather was needed, but they pick the pace right back up to close out the album. The title track Futility Report finishes the album in grand fashion, morphing several times over the 9 minute run time. You can hear elements of Punk and Shoegaze peeking in, and there’s even a short section of Breakcore, but that somehow doesn’t feel out of place. Lyrically it’s bleak like the rest of the album, the faded final words are haunting as the sampled drums get faster and faster: “All the efforts are futile!” This is an album that I probably would’ve dismissed if I got a brief description of it, but I’m so glad I found this, it’s truly a breath of fresh air. I can’t recommend this enough, and really suggest listening to it multiple times if it doesn’t click right away. It’s a joy to listen to and was also to write about.