Wendess are an atmospheric black metal band from Quebec, and when I stumbled across their brilliant new album, MMXXIII, I got that invigorating feeling that comes with finding something that breathes life into tired ears. The album starts off triumphantly, all bleeding hearts and soaring leads, backed by vigorous drumming and incredible vocals borrowed from a depressive palette. It’s awesome, and you’ll be hooked — but Wendess are far more complex than that, and weirdness begins to creep in.
Over the course of eight songs, MMXXIII roams beyond the confines of a pensive atmospheric black metal album — one that strikes a perfect mix of acoustics and organic-sounding guitars — to tread territory more depressive and sinister. Wendess lure you in by evoking a sense of wonder, and then they take you on a tour that includes some darker sounds you can’t see coming, before letting you off on the other side.
MMXXIII’s arrival coincides with the news that the atmospheric black metal genre has lost one of its pillars, Agalloch, amongst strange and disheartening circumstances. If you’re bummed out by the whole scenario, MMXXIII is a salve that should go a long way to healing your wounds, and maybe it can be a new guiding light. Parts of the album will speak directly to you, particularly if you’re a fan of The Mantle.
But Wendness are their own beast, and they cram in an impressive variety of stylistic twists borrowed from various schools of metal in the process, not to mention a badass sample that introduces the dirge that is “Sans Raison.” This album is best consumed as a whole. Listen.