Over the course of a decade and two imperious studio records, WODE have steadily become one of the most revered names in British black metal. Consider that febrile potential, along with the unerring great taste of 20 BUCK SPIN RECORDS, and it comes as no surprise that "Burn In Many Mirrors" is an album of monstrous substance and style. Somehow even darker and heavier than 2017's "Servants Of The Countercosmos", the Manchester quartet's third full-length bristles with the belligerence and frustration of these fucked-up times, with songs that erupt like existential threats from a thick fog of malevolence and nihilistic madness. Great, gruesome fun, in other words.
So muscular is WODE's delivery that everything here feels as close to the warped end of death metal as it does to more traditionally blackened fare. Nonetheless, from the blistering wall of discord that ushers in "Lunar Madness" to the deceptively catchy "Vanish Beneath", these songs generate their own, intangible atmospheres. Pitched at some hazy midpoint between the overtly melodic and the gleefully arcane, "Fire In The Hills" revels in progressive intent, while still delivering nastiness and power in generous quantities. An ululating drone heralds the arrival of an explosive blend of spidery, post-punk picking and rib-shattering, mid-paced heft, replete with an authentic, rasp-along chorus. In contrast, "Sulphuric Glow" is a sustained barrage of old-school death metal bludgeon and grim disdain, with a rock 'n' roll underbelly, some conspicuously '80s-influence riffing and eerie, horror soundtrack organ flourishes.
"Burn In Many Mirrors" reaches an apex of efficacy with "Streams Of Rapture (I, II, III)": nine minutes of barreling, muscular extremity, it transitions from flat-out fury to stately, doom-laden dirge, dense with the mounting tension of a gathering storm, but still with sudden, unexpected bursts of melody skewing and brightening the monochrome mood. The song's final crescendo is an act of hands-in-the-air heavy metal majesty, and absolutely to be applauded. In fact, it's those little moments of unexpected wrongness or audacity that set WODE apart from many of their underground peers. Discerning black metal fans will not struggle to find reasons to love "Burn In Many Mirrors", but there is much more going on here than a simple honoring of arcane values.