I can’t get over how good Wode’s first album is. What strikes me most is that no one element stands out. That is, it’s not like when I first listened to Opeth and was captivated by Mikael Akerfeldt’s slinky guitar and gorgeous baritone voice. Nor is it like wondering how three mere mortals can produce the celestial sound that is Rush. Instead, they capture something deeper, something that transcends the individual parts. As musicians they are certainly more than competent. I have played alongside many a band that can’t come close to them in terms of fundamentals. And yet, at the same time, I’ve played with other musicians who have better chops. What sets Wode apart is their songwriting. They are a modern black metal band that has learned an elusive secret: how to be inspired by a movement without being crushed by it.

With every track I find myself wondering why my band couldn’t have written that–specifically in the sense of confidence. They are supremely comfortable in their orchestration, and it both sets each song free and links them together. They play within themselves and never overreach. It’s as if they pay no mind to what others have done. They simply feel what the music requires and play it. Will people like it? It doesn’t matter. This is what the song requires.

And yes, I know that I’m introducing a normative element, as if there were a Platonic musical standard. I do not mean that in any literal sense. If anything I mean it in the most subjective way. To say “this is what I feel the song is, this is what we will play, don’t worry about anything else” is the height of genius. Whether or not what is produced will stand the test of time is another matter, that is the question of canon. But the instinct is what inspires awe. And Wode exhibits it in spades.

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