REVIEW: WoodooMan — Y Nos (LP)
WoodooMan’s Y Nos is never an album that wants to hold your hand and ease you in. If anything, it’s an album acting as a siren at the center of a whirlpool, beckoning you in with its hypnotic, haunting songs and intentions. There’s not a lot that can prime you for what’s in store, but the best way to go on such a ride is to close your eyes and dive in headfirst — a friendly album it is not, but a rewarding album? You have no idea. Y Nos keeps itself in the realm of psychedelia pretty well, showing small hints of doom metal and shoegaze, but as a whole, WoodooMan remains impossible to label.
From the opening track “Long Time Ago,” listeners are handed a classic metal track that essentially melts in their hands, opening up a world of textures and effects well beyond any typical musical flourishes.
As soon as any songs on Y Nos feel attainable, they flip the switch and bite down hard. This ultimately makes for a rewarding experience when looking at Y Nos as a whole, but at the moment it can be disorienting and unwelcoming. Those brave enough to see the album through to its completion will come out the other side head over heels, however, and most psych-rock fans are familiar with this type of trial, anyways.
“Dust Again” is a mesmerizing album that beckons listeners in deeper before “Father Sun” emerges next in the tracklist and propels the project into a tailspin of delirium after starting like a typical country-rock track. WoodooMan seems to achieve a sense of hypnotism through their repeated lyrics, and “Father Sun” features a chorus that might be the catchiest piece of Y Nos, overall.
“On This Train” is a battle cry with thrumming bass and a brilliant bridge section that releases all of the minor-key tension built across the four songs to appear so far. “In the Night” is a tender guitar-driven piece that adds a great layer of ethos into the album’s narrative, and “Across the Mists of Time” activates a new level of frenzy coming hot off the back of the softer track. “Across the Mists…” once again uses WoodooMan’s signature lyric-repetition to great effect, allowing the album’s psyche to shift entirely in the song’s mere two-minute runtime.
“All Night Long” pivots the tracklist into something fairly tangible when put in comparison with the songs that have come previously; it’s not a traditional rock song by any means, as it puts a grungy bass and crunchy guitars against distinctly different vocals, but the song structure feels a lot more typical than what Y Nos has led us to expect so far. The electronic touches in the song’s back half give it a keen finger on the pulse of the album’s psych-rock undercurrent. “Scarlet Woman” keeps things fairly simple, too, as a guitar and keys play beneath fairly traditional vocals — this song acts as a great emotional barrier between the uptempo “All Night Long” and what follows…
“Y Nos Mewn Cariad,” which loosely translates to “The Night in Love” begins with deep drums and Welsh chanting. Y Nos’ finale evolves into something beyond the album’s expected trajectory, as a chugging guitar comes in and ignites the song before ethereal, ghostlike energy consumes the back half of the track. Piano and synth begin the finale, before guitar returns and the best vocal work on the album is performed. Y Nos is an album that succeeds in the end because of all that was set up throughout it; it might not be the most accessible an album has ever been, but it is certainly one of the more rewarding listens I’ve had in recent memory.