It’s rare that a black metal band has so much pressure on a label debut, but Wode are no ordinary band. Their self-titled debut dropped like a firecracker in the UK scene, and while follow-up Servants of the Countercosmos was solid, it didn’t quite leave the same impact. What was that impact? Imagine all of the 90s Scandinavian black and death metal bands coming together and studying the Iron Maiden and the Necronomicon (the Evil Dead version, not the racist Lovecraft one), with the singular goal of pumping out pure sonic evil. In Wode’s case, that wickedness takes the form of some of the catchiest extreme metal outside of Tribulation. One doesn’t entice others to the underworld by darkness alone, and that’s wonderfully evident throughout the band’s third (and 20 Buck Spin debut) record, the excellent Burn in Many Mirrors.

While their past two releases definitely took influence from the mighty Dissection (which was a great decision), there’s a lot more melodeath, prog, crust, and even thrash here to help separate the Wode MO from the many Dissection copycats. Take “Serpent’s Coil,” which is as close to Necrophobic covering Metallica’s “Blackened” as we’ll ever get. The riffs are vibrant and bright, and the song feels, for lack of a better word, playful. It’s a firecracker of a song, lead by guitar work that wouldn’t have been out of place in the 80s. Then there’s the extended three-part closer, dabbling in the best songwriting of the band’s catalog to date. Who would have guessed that progressive black metal would be this impressive?

What’s funny is how blackened death is having a banner year with two bands doing similar things to different effects. While a lot of bands struggle with dynamics by rarely taking their collective foot of the gas pedal, both Wode and Thron (check them out post-haste) have released some of the best blackened death records in recent years due to an appreciation for all parts of those two styles. Thron’s style reminds me of what Tribulation would sound like if they stayed in their previous extreme lane but added those Gothic flourishes. Wode are definitely harsher and grander, keeping the thrash influence of black metal, though their third record represents a bit of a change of emphasis and scope. What was riffs and atmosphere is songwriting and flair. Thankfully for the band, this shift is a winner, resulting in their best work to date and a sign of future promise ahead.

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