Oregon’s Nuwisha refer to themselves as “Cascadian Grey Metal,” though I imagine that even the members of the band will admit that this LP isn’t very Metal. The overwhelming bulk of Solitary Are the Winter Woods is acoustic guitar and clean vocals. The music on this LP has far more in common with Neo-Folk bands like Death in June, Sol Invictus or The Soil Bleeds Black than anything Bathory or Venom ever wrote. That being said, Nuwisha shares the downside of Neo-Folk as well. The music lacks passion, and most of the acoustic stuff seems flat and empty. The band tries to spice things up by occasionally going into more Black Metal styled songs with distorted electric guitar and raspy vocals. During those parts, the tempo dramatically increases and the songs liven up a bit, but these moments are spread a bit too far apart for my liking. Just when you think things are getting good, the tempo drops and the songs go back into the Neo-Folk doldrums where you languish in boredom until the next pseudo-Black Metal song comes on. Fellow Cascadians Echtra and Faun have pretty much pushed the acoustic guitar-heavy Black Metal style as far as it’ll go before it stops being Metal and starts becoming something else entirely. I think Nuwisha would find a more receptive audience in the Neo-Folk scene because that’s the direction they seem to be headed in already, and the Black Metal influences they bring into their music are few and far between. I’m not a huge fan of Death in June or Sol Invictus, but folks who are will probably enjoy this LP far more than I did. It’s just too passive for my taste. I can only listen to a two-man acoustic jam session for so long before I get bored and I start rooting through my collection for something more brutal and aggressive.
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