Woe – Quietly, Undramatically (Candlelight, 2010)

Quietly, Undramatically harpooned me immediately on a sonic level, with rarefied, transportive riffs, bright production and vivid drumming. As a listening experience, the album is deeply tied into its lyrical content. On the one hand, the album ponders our mournful mortal struggles, and on the other, it tackles beguiling metaphysical quandaries. It takes a lot these days for anything approaching conventional black metal to grab my attention, but Woe have succeeded in branding a black mark in my consciousness.

Riffs always win the day. Chris Grigg delivers a deluge of memorable, melodic and varied guitar work. The mandatory waves of tremolo-picked pandemonium never fade into background noise. These songs demonstrate an ability to channel the tried and true essence of black metal in fresh, if not new, directions. The riffs are comprised of melodies that at times are austere and at others possessed of a bleak emotional undertow. Ghostly lead guitar accents augment some passages and sparing clean arpeggiations fill out the sonic seascape.

Evan Madden delivers an entirely human and entirely complementary drum performance. He eschews robotic blasting for rhythmic diversity and character. The sinuous, organic drums make this music lively and engaging to my ears while inducing much banging of the head. The percussion is forward in the mix, and I find its prominence refreshing. The cataract roils at varying speeds, mostly flowing at a brisk pace. The songs often bob along with a lilt that evokes memories of Enslaved's Eld. Other stretches move with the ambient abandon of Wolves in the Throne Room or the frenetic verve of Krallice.

Chris Grigg's vocals give life to brooding, enigmatic lyrical prognostications. He shifts between a heartier death gurgle and an anguished black metal scream, sometimes augmented by echoing reverb. “The Road From Recovery” examines the tortured path of progress, regression and depression, brought upon ourselves “because this body demands it always lose.” The title track is a meditation on one's own death, explaining how “I focus on the end and how I know that it will take me. Quietly. Undramatically.” This song features a brief presentation of excellent clean vocals, delivered with affecting authority. Their inclusion might repulse a purist, but I enjoy the depth they add to the track.

“A Treatise On Control” ponders our power to control absolutely nothing in this life, while also seeming to deny the power of a divine creator. “Without Logic” explores a knowing disavowal of rational existence, stating that “the world's been explained at the cost of my soul. A predictable planet's preferred by the weak. I look deep inside and refuse now to think.” “Hatred is our Heart” takes a step away from the cerebral proceedings, reading like an indictment of corpse-painted, theatrical black metal. The track, replete with gruff gang vocals, proclaims the integrity of artists who shun pseudonyms and false identities.

Seemingly apropos of nothing in the lyrics, the liner notes conclude with the the statement, “Some things change. Some things stay the same. Woe is Satanic black metal. Hatred is our Heart” I'm not exactly sure what that means anymore in this day and age, but it's quite possible I missed something along the way. Then again, perhaps “the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.” Either way, this apparent dichotomy does nothing to dull my enjoyment of the album or the sentiments it explores.

88/100

Woe Myspace

Labels

Absu1 Acephalix2 Agalloch1 Agrath1 Altar of Plagues4 ambient1 Amon Amarth4 Amorphis1 Ancient Wound1 Anhedonist1 Animals as Leaders1 Aosoth1 Apostasy Records1 Arsis1 Assück2 astrogrind1 At The Gates1 Atakke2 Augury1 Aural Music1 Australia1 Autopsy1 Avantgarde Music1 Backslider1 Bandcamp4 Baroness5 Barren Earth1 Batillus2 Be'lakor2 Beansidhe2 Beaten To Death3 Bindrune Recordings3 Black Anvil10 Black Cobra1 Black Metal63 Blender Theater3 Blood Harvest3 Blood Incantation1 Blood Music1 Bloody Panda1 Blue Record1 Blut aus Nord2 Bolt Thrower2 Bosse-de-Nage1 Botanist1 Bowery Ballroom1 Buckshot Facelift1 Burning World1 Burst4 Cake Shop2 Candlelight1 Cannibal Corpse2 Captain Cleanoff1 Carcariass1 Carcass3 Castevet8 cats1 Century Media1 Chepang1 Chronicles of Chaos1 Chuck Schuldiner1 Cloud Rat2 Cobalt2 Code6661 Coffinworm1 Concussion1 Coney Island High2 Converge1 Convulse1 Convulsing1 Creator-Destructor Records1 Crom Dubh1 Crucifist1 crust2 Curandera2 Cynd1 Cynic1 d-beat1 Dååth1 Dark Descent Records6 Dark Tranquillity1 Darkane1 Darkthrone2 Deafest5 Death2 Death Angel1 death metal65 Deathspell Omega1 Debemur Morti2 Decibel2 Decrepit Birth2 Defeatist8 Demilich1 Dephosphorus1 Disappearer1 Discordance Axis1 diSEMBOWELMENT1 Disma3 Disrotted1 Dissection2 Don't Give a Fuck1 doom27 Down2 Dream Theater2 Drugs of Faith1 Dunkelheit Produktionen1 Duplicate Records1 Dying Fetus1 Dystrophy1 Earache4 Eight Bells1 Eluveitie1 Emperor1 Enslaved3 Entombed2 Epoch1 Europa3 Explosions In The Sky1 Falls of Rauros1 Fen3 FLAC1 Flaming Tusk4 Flourishing6 folk1 folk metal2 From Exile1 Fuck the Facts5 funeral doom5 Funeral Moth2 Fuoco Fatuo1 Gattaca1 Gaza1 GetOverHere1 Gigan1 Gilead Media3 God Dethroned2 Gojira5 Google Music1 Google music beta1 Gorguts3 Gorod2 Gramercy Theater2 Grand Ballroom1 Grave Miasma1 Graveyard Hill Records1 Grind and Punishment1 grindcore30 Grindcore Karaoke1 Guns N' Roses1 Gustavo Santaolalla1 Gwynbleidd1 Gygax1 Handshake Inc.1 hardcore8 Heaving Earth2 heavy metal2 Hells Headbangers2 Hellthrasher Productions2 High Water Media1 Highline Ballroom1 Hivelords1 Holy Grail1 Hooded Menace2 Horrendous3 Horror Pain Gore Death Productions2 Howls of Ebb1 Humanity Falls2 Hybreed Chaos1 I1 I Abhor1 Ill Omen1 Imbroglio2 Immolation6 Immortal4 Impiety1 In Flames2 Incantation3 industrial2 Infernal Stronghold1 Infestus1 Ingrowing1 Inquisition2 Interviews1 Intronaut2 Inverloch1 Invertia1 Invictus Productions2 Ipsissimus2 Irkallian Oracle1 Iron Bonehead1 Iron Bonehead Productions1 Iron Maiden4 Irving Plaza4 Isis1 Katatonia3 Khthoniik Cerviiks2 King Giant1 Krallice10 Kreator4 Krypts3 Kylesa4 Lamb of God2 Landmine Marathon3 Last Rites1 Laster1 Latitudes1 Lavadome productions2 Lay Down Rotten2 Legion1 Listenable Records1 Lit Lounge1 Ludicra4 Lychgate1 Madison Square Garden1 Magrudergrind2 Man's Gin1 Manipulator1 Marduk1 Marty Friedman1 Martyrdöd1 Maruta1 Maryland Deathfest2 Mas-Kina Recordings2 Masonic Temple1 Mastodon6 Megadeth1 melodic death metal4 Melvins2 Metal Bandcamp7 Metallica1 Mikael Åkerfeldt1 Milwaukee Metalfest1 Mind Mold1 Mirovia1 Misery's Omen1 Mithras2 Mitochondrion1 Moksha1 Mollusk1 Mono2 Moonsorrow1 Morbus Chron1 Mortician1 Motörhead1 Mournful Congregation1 Music Hall of Williamsburgh1 Mutant Supremacy5 Mutiny Within1 My Dying Bride4 Nachtreich2 Naisian1 Napalm Death5 Nasum1 Necrophobic1 Necrosemen1 Necrowretch1 neo-classical1 Nephelium1 Nerve Altar2 Neuraxis3 Neurisis1 New Zealand1 Nile2 Nirvana1 No Fashion Records1 noise3 Nokia Theater1 Nordvis2 Nuclear Blast3 Nuclear War Now!1 Nucleus2 NWOBHM2 Obscura4 Obsequiae2 Ogg Vorbis1 Opeth5 Order of Orias1 Osmose Productions1 Owen Hart1 P.L.F.1 Pact Ink Records2 Pagan Records1 Pallbearer1 Pantera1 Paroxsihzem2 Peaceville4 Pelican6 Phantom Glue1 Phil Anselmo1 Pinnacle of Bedlam1 pirate metal1 Plebeian Grandstand2 Poland1 Polluted Inheritance1 Portal1 post-metal2 post-rock2 PRC music1 Priapus1 Prisoner of War1 Profound Lore9 prog11 Prosthetic2 Psychic Limb3 Pulverised Records1 Qrixkuor2 Quorthon1 Radiation Blackbody1 random playlist3 Red Album1 reissue1 Relapse8 Revocation5 Ritual Chamber1 Robert Johnson1 Sabre1 Saint Vitus Bar1 Sarcasm1 Sarpanitum1 Satan1 Scion1 Scrotum Jus Records1 Selfmadegod Records1 Sentient Ruin1 Setentia2 Seventh Rule1 Severnaya1 Shadow Kingdom Records1 Shea Stadium1 Siberian Hell Sounds1 Skeletonwitch6 Slough Feg1 Sludge17 Slugdge1 Social Distortion1 Soilwork3 Soulseller Records1 Southern Lord3 Spectral Lore2 speed metal1 StarGazer1 Streetwalker1 Suffering Hour1 Suffocation5 Sulaco1 Summer Slaughter1 surf1 Swallow the Sun2 Swashbuckle3 Swedish Death Metal1 Swimming1 Swords of Chaos1 Sydney1 Symphony X1 Taake1 technical death metal7 Temple of Abandonment1 Temple of Void1 Thantifaxath1 The Absence1 The Acheron3 The Ajna Offensive1 The Binary Code1 The Bowery Electric2 The Chance4 The Charleston2 The Communion1 The Faceless4 The Fucking Champs2 The Knitting Factory3 The Path Less Traveled Records7 The Rolling Stones1 The Secret2 The Studio at Webster Hall5 Thou1 thrash10 Thrawsunblat1 Throatruiner Records1 Throne Records1 Tiger Flowers3 Toad's Place1 Tombs6 Triptykon1 Union Pool2 Unmen1 Unspeakable Axe Records1 Urfaust1 Vancouver1 Velnias1 Vendetta Records1 Vex1 Via Nocturna1 Vic records1 viking2 Vit1 Vitriol Records1 Vore1 W.T.C Productions1 Wadge1 Wake2 Warbringer2 Weakling3 Weapon1 Weedeater1 What We All Come To Need1 Willowtip4 Withered5 WITTR1 Woe3 Wolves In The Throne Room5 Woods of Ypres4 Wormrot9 Writhing Mass1 Xaddax1 Xantam1 year-end list2 Yellow Eyes1 Yith1 Zhrine1 Zosimus1
Show more