Three years after the excellent debut entitled A Step Into The Waters Of Forgetfulness, the Belorussians Woe Unto Me, undisputed standard-bearers of the funeral doom word of their country, are back with a new album. The band led by the talented Artem Serdyuk, with this Among The Lightened Skies The Voidness Flashed, does things in a big way, risking, in my opinion, a little bit in offering to the fans a double CD for more than two hours of music with different coordinates between the two magnetic supports: if, in fact, the first one gives a more orthodox interpretation, even if, as we’ll see, not in all the moments, the second one is characterized by an acoustic and intimate vein with alternate results. Honestly, as an old funeral worshipper, I think that only the first five long tracks represent the real album, relegating the seven songs contained in the second part to a sort of bonus CD, even if valid, in the light of its objective deviation from the guidelines of the genre. Let’s start with the opener Triptych: Shiver, Shelter, Shatter, one of the highlights of the work, if only for the presence of several guests, some famous (Daniel Neagoe and Jon Aldarà), others less so (Patryk Zwoliński): the song, beautiful, changes mood from time to time with the alternation of the different vocalists, resulting first dark and dramatic, with the usual terrifying growl of Neagoe, then becoming harsher in coincidence with the harsh vocals of Zwoliński and finally reaching its emotional peak when the wonderful voice of the Faroese Aldarà pushes the song on a plane irresistibly evocative. An equally valid Of Life That Never Showed Its Face opens the part of the record where the alternation between Serdyuk’s growl and Oleg Vorontsov’s clean vocals becomes almost systematic, opening up compositional outlets previously unexplored by Woe Unto Me, with an ambient part with a lot of wind instruments that preludes a splendid finale. I Come To Naught opens in a rather dark way and then suddenly opens in airy passages that remind us of Dark Suns in their masterpiece Existence: here too the sax becomes an interesting element of discontinuity in a song that is certainly original if compared to the genre offered and, consequently, definitely intriguing. Breath Of A Grief, except for a nice emotional increase in its final part, even if it’s still a song of good thickness, represents the less sparkling moment of the first CD, maybe because right after comes the real pearl of the album, Drawn By Mourning, a magnificent and dramatic example of how funeral doom is played in the ex-Soviet lands, with its sorrowful pace punctuated by the wailing of the guitar and a development always marked by the search of touching but not obvious sounds. The second cd, as said, moves everything on a more rarefied plan that, in the end, makes the contents a bit too homogeneous: this doesn’t prevent the Belarusian band to give splendid tracks like In A Stranglehold and Fall-Dyed Lament, which are stylistically placed between Anathema and acoustic Novembers Doom, or like Leave Me To My Sorrows, which refers to Thomas Jensen’s acting pathos in the Saturnus albums but, overall, the impact and the intensity don’t reach the one of the canonical cd. Given that the funeral is an anti-commercial genre by definition, the choice of Woe Unto Me is doubly brave, even if this clear separation between the two souls of the album does not benefit the economy of the whole work, in the sense that, while maintaining the version with double support, mixing everything and lightening by 2-3 tracks the overall turnover, Among The Lightened Skies The Voidness Flashed would probably have been made more accessible to full listeners. In fact, I think that many might eventually set aside the acoustic part in favour of the excellent compositional visage displayed by Serdyuk in the first five tracks. The rating, for what it’s worth, is the mathematical average between the 9 of the first CD and the 7 of the second one but, with the solution I wished before, the evaluation could have reached even half a point more. It doesn’t change much, if not for the statistics, because Woe Unto Me confirms their ability as one of the reference bands of the Eastern European funeral doom.

2017 – Solitude Productions