When deployed properly, generic pleasures can be sublime fun. Pulse-quickening foot chases in actions films, outrageous twists in mystery novels, visceral breakdowns in hardcore songs; all are examples of tropes that fans of these respective genres have come to love and cherish. When these signifiers are performed with real skill and depth of vision, as Wode manage on Burn In Many Mirrors, it’s a beautiful thing to witness, almost transcendently so.
Over the course of a decade and two previous studio albums, the Manchester band have risen to the upper echelons of the UK black metal scene, to the point where their newest release Burn In Many Mirrors is landing via the revered American label 20 Buck Spin. These guys are the real deal, there’s been few other contemporary UK black metal bands released on labels quite this prestigious, with the exceptions of perhaps Saor on Season Of Mist and fellow Mancunians Winterfylleth’s first album on Profound Lore. With this in mind, it’ll come as no surprise then to learn that Burn In Many Mirrors is an absolute barn-stormer; six tracks of such muscular ferocity you can practically feel their claws stripping the skin from your face.
Pound for pound, the generic pleasures contained within Burn In Many Mirrors can go toe to toe with that of any other black metal album released in the last few years. The key to its success is how Wode succeeded in playing on our understanding of the genre, in invoking the greats without ever feeling like retro rip offs. Michael Czerwoniuk’s throaty howl is reminiscent of, and this is not a comparison to be called upon lightly; Behemoth’s Nergal, particularly on the almost anthemic ‘Vanish Beneath’. The opening blasts of ‘Sulphuric Glow’ are truly intense and violent, practically whiplash-inducing, and manage to match anything produced by the most grandiose of genre big boys Gorgoroth or 1349. Most entertainingly, much of the album plays out in a mid tempo, linear stomp, similar in spirit to early pioneers Venom or Bathory. There’s even hints of NWOBHM guitars in the guitar leads of ‘Serpent’s Coil’ and ‘Sulphuric Glow’, generating an incredible sense of momentum, hurtling the tracks towards even more punishing denouements. \
The intensity of the thirty-nine minute runtime is balanced out smartly by a few interjections of relative calm, such as the majestic ‘Fire In The Hills’, which uses its stunning opening stretch to expand the space of this most white-hot and pressure-cooked of albums. Similar is the nearly ten-minute closer ‘Streams Of Rapture (I, II, III)’, Burn In Many Mirrors’ most elemental and awe-inspiring track. Featuring a doomy, battle-ready opening ninety seconds and final stretch of incredible grandeur, these closing moments are a beautiful culmination of Wode’s generic knowledge, combining everything they're capable of and using it to create something towering and monolithic.
Burn In Many Mirrors is as about as good as traditional black metal comes. It makes the blackgaze bands look positively ponderous, and the lo-fi acts look uninspired and lacking guile. The world is now Wode’s to conquer, and Burn In Many Mirrors is one hell of a battle cry.
Burn In Many Mirrors is released April 2nd via 20 Buck Spin.