ColdWorld – Autumn (2016)

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Author: Crono

Band: ColdWorld

Album: Autumn

Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

Label: Cold Dimensions

Finally, the new ColdWorld has landed. It’s a pretty big deal – for those who don’t know, ColdWorld’s debut album, Melancholie², is lauded as one of the defining albums of the depressive black metal movement. It was released way back in 2008, in the “heyday” of the DSBM movement. Most considered the ColdWorld project ended, counting away the 8 years of silence from the band. But here we are, Autumn has finally been released as the follow-up to that brilliant debut. Fair warning: things have changed.

So many things have changed from Melancholie² to Autumn, it’s almost difficult to know where to start. The vocals have certainly changed; gone are those croaked, almost spoken word vocals. Instead, we have a fairly standard black metal scream, sounding washed out and distant. This makes the lyrics almost impossible to decipher, unlike on the previous album. If you listened well enough, you could hear what was being said on songs like “Tortured By Solitude”. The guitars have shifted drastically as well, having much less of a raw tone to them. There is definitely less focus on writing riffs and much more focus on writing melodies that will fit into the overall flow of the song. A song like “Void” doesn’t have much in the way of a strong riff, but the central melody and the tremolo backing paired together create a really lovely sound. Finally, another very obvious change is the move from synth-oriented keys to cleaner sounds and the inclusion of strings. This changes the sound drastically, taking it from sounding rather old-fashioned to sounding extremely modern. The keys on Melancholie² were brittle and depressing, while the synths and strings on Autumn are uplifting and beautiful. Simply listen to the keys at very beginning of “A Dream of a Dead Sun” and then the keys at the beginning of something like “Woods of Emptiness”. The difference is very clear.

So what does this all mean? Is it good, is it bad? Why change at all? Well, I can honestly say that upon my first listen, I was pretty disappointed. I thought “Where is ColdWorld and what is this?” Such a huge change in sound can only surprise those who were as familiar with Melancholie² as I was. But I gave Autumn a chance and allowed it to stand on its own merits. It’s clear that Georg, the man behind ColdWorld, has changed a lot over the years, and this change in the music reflects a more mature and developed aesthetic. Autumn, while quite different, is actually very good.

There are moments of excessive beauty, like on the aforementioned “Void”, where the central melody is paired with angelic vocals for the final climax. The melody at the heart of “Woods of Emptiness” reminds me of what will always be the most amazing song on Melancholie², “Hymn to Eternal Frost”. “Woods of Emptiness” also include, along with a few other songs, Georg’s clean vocals, which are very well done for a black metal album. And I genuinely was moved by how heart wrenching “Climax of Sorrow” is; this song has an amazing build up and passionate outro. There is so much on Autumn to appreciate, and considering how long it took to release, the songs are as well-developed as you would want them to be.

There is only one thing that I have to note about this album: it is not depressive black metal. When I saw this album on the horizon, I was very excited to have a strong contender in the depressive black metal space again — there are so few left. But alas, while Autumn is amazing, it is very clearly atmospheric black metal, and cannot be used to bolster up the fading depressive black metal scene. I will continue to keep my eyes peeled, but my hopes have dwindled. Regardless, get your hands on this album and, if you are a fan of their debut, listen to it with an open mind and allow the brilliance of Autumn to shine through.

8.5/10

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