Wo Fat
Midnight Cometh

You’re walking alone on a desert highway.  The last of your water ran out around 3 hours ago and the sign you saw 5 minutes ago said “Rest Stop 50 Miles.”  You think you get a break when you see a dustcloud of human life, but end up getting rundown by a ruthless gang of road butchers on panhandles.  No need to worry…it’s just Wo Fat on tour and they won’t be back to help your flattened body.  I’ve been an instant fan of this Texas killing machine since Noche del Chupacabra.  I’ve gone back and explored the music that built the foundation for that riff-gutting monsterpiece and every album before and since has been nothing short of phenomenal.

Those looking for massive changes on the band’s 6th full-length smasher can go to hell.  Instead, what you get is even tougher, tighter playing and songs’ that bring the massive tones of skillful, heavy as death psychedelic hard rock slaughter that keeps you holding on for the next sweltering, heatstroke wah-riff.  Fans of the rumbling, Richter breaking tones of Blue Cheer, forgotten 70s demons Bedlam, Bloodrock, Mountain, Motörhead, Blood Farmers, Suplecs, Black Sabbath and Buffalo should jizz their pants over this shit.  Not only can these doom wieldin’ demons cover the monstrosity of the riff and concrete cracking density just fine, but they can write good tunes too as exemplified by opener “There’s Something Sinister in the Wind.”  The heaving, dust-choked grooves build on a fast-paced, incendiary riff layering licks and leads all over the top while the thick-ass rhythms merge to a hard steel groove.  Things steam, speed, spit oil and overheat until the trio (accompanied by session bassists on this record with guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump and drummer Michael Walter making up the core duo) send the riff into a murky rise up to the top of the swamp with sky-flying harmony vocals and smooth hooks showing that these cats got the brain and the brawn to get the job done.  Everything falls into puzzle perfect placement with the song’s ending drifting off into a storm of earth-splitting riffs giving way to drippy psychedelic overdrive.

“Riffborn” opens with one of the trio’s sludgiest, dirtiest processions; enough to give High on Fire a run for their money easy, Walter slams into a stuttering tempest of cracking snare fills and anchoring tom-drum thump while Stump’s fingers tickle every lick and riff with groove, doom and octane.  There’s enough wah on that guitar to drown a team of Olympic swimmers with the tempo unhinged for the verses and controlled n’ taut for the choruses with swinging blues dips taking shape that are enough to take out your 90 year old, still smokin’ grandma.  Kent’s vocal hooks are hewn from pure leather with grit n’ oats hanging from every melody but enough tight, sharp jabs to make the song’s biggest lyrical doozy a simple, masterful piece of shout-a-along madness.  This is mean ass stuff to break out the Wild Turkey, weed and mushrooms for and this particular track really lets loose with an instrumental workout in the second half where everybody brings their A-game.

Especially revered for their lengthy, noisy psychedelic/doom forays, the 11+ minutes encapsulating “Of Smoke and Fog” is the album’s centerpiece and a real fuckin’ highlight.  The reverbed-out, echoing, smoke swirled psyche blues riffs that open the piece create a dark, frightening headspace made for pagan passtimes.  Every power chord wanders off into bluesy, Hendrix style freakout with atmospheric cymbal taps, cascades of ambient noise and vacuum surges of bass setting the jam up for an off-kilter, deep sinkin’ swamp ooze.  Michael’s symbolic pounding instigates the numerous changes in guitar patterns which build instead of roam aimlessly across an already worn psychedelic wasteland.  These cats just conjure the magic and use it to keep control of your head.  As the halfway point encroaches like a killer with pantyhose stretched for the final strangle, the riffage opens up a mile wide into a swimming series of dirty power chords heavily tanned with the blues while the drumming patterns accents their way into every rise in speed.  The smooth yet Marlboro blasted vocals keep the melodies intact but sparse, possessing an eerie quality that’s heavy on the angry, ethereal billowing of the midnight flames.  For my money, it’s the best tune Wo Fat have written to date and that’s not small praise…these guys can write n’ jam, making it look like a piece of auntie’s pie in the process.  Be warned…ya better bunker down for that wah-wah solo madness in the second half because in tandem with Walter’s intricate extra beats, the whole movement will take your goddamn head off before the dreamy dope blues return to carry you back to Leary land.

Anvil dropping, chest-caving doom thickness appears at a fearsome pace in the sleazebucket slam of “Le Dilemme De Detenu.”  Stump’s opening riff collides in a traffic accident of deadlocked snare beats and crippling tom/kick crumbling that sets the stage for a song that’s as heavy as anybody out there.  Here the trio truly reminds me of a revival of legendary Texan mudthrowers like Bloodrock…only heavier.  Some of you out there gotta know what I’m talking about.  Once the oppressive domination loosens up a bit, things turn from a Man’s Ruin stoner scorch to a playful, funk riffer full of pocket rhythm playing and those syrupy, delectable wah-emanations weld themselves to more thoughtful, cosmic jamming bouts that create glorious sky-burning synergy…and vocally, this motherfucker isn’t playing around with short, succinct hooks that say plenty with less.  Again, these guys prove themselves mastercraftsmen of the extended jam with the instrumental hieroglyphics in the latter section enough to confound thousands of races to come.  Solos fly, cowbells smack, the bass holds the foundation way into the deep creek and the drumming never misses a mark…goddamn good shit from start to finish.

Adding a minute to the Maiden classic’s title ,“Three Minutes to Midnight” pisses on build-up and throws intensive intensity out the window…giving it a mouthful of broken glass and jacking the throttle to maximum from the very beginning.  This is riff after riff from the get-go with brain-melting solos and that fuck you, punk vibe that Lemmy handed down to every generation below him.  The second half piles on the voodoo and backwater witchery with lengthy, sustained psychedelic guitar grandeur and plenty of hand percussion.  Closer, the ominously nicked “Nightcomer” reverts to some of the primal, godless blues-sludge riffing that made Noche del Chupacabra so menacing and superb for 2 a.m. drunk driving excursions with a bowl in hand.  I don’t recommend this kids…keep it in the bedroom, or don’t, I’m not your parent but this shit just devolves into a hypnotic riff repetition with every instrument pushing the limit of heavy to the point where you want to do something dangerous.  Even when the tempo picks up, it still slips n’ slides on grease n’ oil while blowing exhaust and battery acid out the back end.  Wo Fat makes a lot of the current stoner crop sound like hug-giving, rainbow beaming sun merchants…fuck man, this shit is ruthless.

Midnight Cometh holds no mercy for no man, woman and child.  Sure, you’re gonna feel good when the riffs are blurring the yellow lines on the road with the warm psychedelia heating your soul like the sun and the rhythms giving you the endless breathe of life, but be warned, Wo Fat are as heavy as they come and can teach a thing or two to some of the current crop of hip kids who think they know what stoner and doom is all about ‘cause they heard a few of the popular bands.  Killer record, killer power trio…keep ‘em comin’ fellas!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
August 23rd, 2016

Comments

  1. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    i like what I’ve heard from these dudes


  2. Commented by: Jay

    Right on Nick! Yeah, once I got ahold of Noche del Chupacabra and got into it there was no turning back. Had to have ’em all from these guys!


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