Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Woe - Withdrawal - 2

Review by Adrian Tan.

Design by Justin Miller

So what exactly is it that makes Black Metal anyways? This has been the question that have gotten me thinking for the better part of the day. Consciously thinking about this, it makes me realize exactly how little a tag like “Black Metal” really convey these days.

I mean, it really doesn’t describe all that much really. If I were to tell you that a band plays Black Metal. What would you be expecting? Basement quality raw (some say shitty) atmospherics? Grandiose (some say pretentious) orchestrations and symphonics? It is little wonder why “sub-genre” tags have become the topic of obsessive contention and the source of many a hurt (butt or otherwise).

All this makes it quite intriguing for me as I attempt to communicate the music of Woe and their latest outing on what would be their third album “Withdrawal”. It is with this note that I refrain to classify though simply saying that they play Black Metal is tantamount to not saying much.

Photo by Casey Carlton.

Woe plays a brand of metal (mostly Black) in a vein that is truly quite unique. The music concocted in their latest offering is a melting pot of creative musical ideas that sprawls across the genres of metaldom (and then some). Where songs like “Carried by Waves to Remorseless Shores of the Truth” pummels relentlessly forward with Death/Thrash metal ferocity, others like “Song of my Undoing” is an exercise of refrained aggression wrapped around Post-Metal/Rock sensibilities. There is more going on here than the flavours you can find in Ben & Jerry’s confectionary mutations. And it is just that which makes it all the more intriguing and palpable - familiar flavours mixed in such ways that you’ve never thought possible. It takes skill and vision of the utmost degree to be able to pull this off with coherence of any sort. And here it’s all nailed to a precisely to the T.

Material aside, in the time between, Woe have clearly matured immensely as a band and it comes through in the music.Tight-as-fuck delivery, near-effortless dynamics as the playing shifts between musical phrases within songs plus mind-bendingly killer lead guitar and bass work interwoven within the subtly shifting lattice-work of compositions - the band have developed their musical chops; honed to a whole different degree.

Here is an album that is a testament to the continued organic musical evolution from a ceaselessly creative and ambitious young band. For me, this collection of tunes hit home in all the right places. Yet another worthy addition to the well storied pantheon of Black Metal (or “Modern-Progressive-Deathened-Post-Black American Metal” to be precise).

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Tagged with 2013, Adrian Tan, black metal, Candlelight Records USA, Woe
1 comment:
  1. It sounds like you're comparing apples to oranges. Woe is clearly not a band for whom "black metal" is the be-all/end-all, but at the same time, they are the exception rather than the rule in a sub-genre that is notorious for its traditionalism and resistance to change.

    Other people would have more examples; however, the one that comes readily to mind, Pact (from the same state, no less), is perhaps most emblematic of the traits I mentioned above.

    Pardon my contention and continue on, sir.