Thursday, April 25, 2013

Woe: "Withdrawal"

Not sure why it's taken me so long to review this one, so maybe it's needed sometime to digest. This band has big shoes to fill in following up their previous album "Quietly, Undramatically ". Three years later and that album is still in rotation. While this was once more of a solo project for Chris Grigg has certainly congealed into more of a band on what's their third full length. I guess he got pissed for the whole shoes gaze label being thrown round in reference with the last album because this one is pissed with little that could be misconstrued as maybe when it comes to some of the clean vocals that still sound a litte like Cave-in to me , which I'm fine with as I use to like those guys.

The album opens with more technical guitar than previous albums, while their previous album has more of an organic warmth in the production this album is bigger and more in your face. The onset of the blasty mc nasties here carries a different delivery as Disma drummer Shawn Eldridge plays on this album. The initial impression is this going to be Krallice like Black Metal until the more hardcore influence complete with those Cave-in vocals comes in at the three minute mark. It works with what these guys do , granted I'm use to it from the last album so newcomers that are close minded Cvltists might take offense, and there is a break down of sorts and gang vocals to further set them off, but the drumming is a vast improvement and really puts what they are doing up in your grille.

On "Carried By Waves to Remorseless Shores of the Truth" we are back to a blasting drone, until a minute in the riff takes on more of a thrashing gallop. This thrashes along in an Absu like fashion, building back into a cascading blast and flowing into more of a stomp, with the vocals lowering back into the kind coarse growl I'm used to than the higher black metal screech. The guitar harmony in the last minute brings it all home rather epically.

Acoustic guitar leads into "All Bridges Burned" it finds it's self back into another rapid tempo that more warped out thrash than black metal, though the blasties don't wait long to come back into the picture. The double bass builds a case for the thrash feel underneath. I think the really sharp accents are where the guitar shines in this sort of thing. The tribal drum roll midway set against the ringing chords is what the song needs to change gears into more galloped section and the guitar solo, that sits back In the mix rather than putting the foot up onto the monitor. The lower death metal vocals give a fuller sound and keep the vocal attack varied.

This album is in someways more straight forward and has a rawer feel than "Quietly Undramatically" . The thrash groove grooves towards the beginning of " Ceaseless Jaws " are blink and they are gone flashes where the bulk of the song is forward propulsion by double bass until the the clean guitar break that is ten seconds at most before they throw you back into the storm. the drumming continues to take the overall intensity level up a notch.

There is almost a Kiss feel to the drums that open "Song of my Undoing" then the guitars take it in an eighties punk direction.the guitar give some breathing room to the clean vocals which still have that Cave-in smoothness to their croon. This alternates with the harsh vocals but doesn't come across like a cheesy Killswitch Engage game of good cop / bad cop. The guitars take on a mean chug, even though the songs stays at a mid tempo with the double bass bubbling under it.

There's a very raw almost to the point of being punk feel to the start of "Exhausted" though the double bass flourishes break it up, the song takes a dramatic turn midway through when it slows down for the guitar solo,mthats slightly more showcased than the previous one, the riff modulates into something that reminds me a little of Hot Water Music here and there and then gets angrier till the blast out.

The bass rumble , which leads into the title track and yes, this a black metal album where you can actually hear the bass the majority of the time, the bass here drives the song forward even as the guitar churn the chords ata slower pace. Their is a depressive feel to this song but it is a wide mix of emotions rather than being DSBM.

It's refreshing that when the trend in black metal is to put out albums of two twenty minute songs these guys prove that good songwriting can be more intresting and cover just as much ground and in some cases even more. I think that while some of the more blasting sections sounded similar at times overall the album goes on to rally show case why these guys are at the top of the heap when it comes to American Black Metal, they rock with as much malice in their riffs as any of their American peers while conveying a broader range of emotions than just numbing you out wights white noise of a drone. I'll give this album 9 out of 10 and highly recommend it to all metal fans not just of black metal as I think the chops and songwriting will translate across the genre lines.

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