Woe
Quietly, Undramatically

As I expressed here, Woe’s debut album, A Spell for the Death of Man was one of the best USBM releases of the last few years. So I was curious how Chris Grigg (no longer known as Xos) would deliver a follow up now residing on a legendary black metal label and having a full band behind him (Grigg is joined by his pals from Doom/stoner side project The Green Evening Requiem).

Well, for starters, Quiet, Undramatically is neither quiet nor undramatic, in fact being rather loud and definitely dramatic. And brilliant to boot.

The first thing fans of the first album will notice is that the overall tone and presence of the sound is much dirtier and grimier than the debut. And while I’m not a huge fan of the new drum sound, its gives the band a bit more bite and character. There’s also a bit more punk and black thrash lurking amid the tremolo picked fury. What’s not changed is Grigg’s ability to craft seething, yet melodically urgent riffs that command attention. Also, there’s no post rock, no haughty ambience, but just the right amount of atmospherics (some well utilized clean vocals, some song transitioning acoustics), tinge the gritty tone.

After nondescript intro “No Solitude”, “The Road From Recovery” tears into the listener with a raucous punk fueled rage, but as you think Woe has turned into Infernal Stronghold (which would not be surprising, since they share a member), but at 4:17, Woe unleash a truly magnificent melodic segue that ends the song in a vicious, hair pulling skin grabbing, lip biting climax. The 7 ½ minute title track follows with a varied, shimmering assault of frosty but fuzzy chaos (the opening riff is one of those ‘perfect black metal riffs), and Grigg’s first use of clean vocals. They are well done and add some soul to the chaos rather than just piecemeal atmospherics, again the track ends on a slicing-ly brilliant melodic high note.

After two truly attention raping tracks, “A Treatise on Control” is initially a bit of a let down, but about halfway through, takes a now typical Woe shift into sublime, melodic excellence and then the short blast of “Without Logic” is a bristling punk/black thrash attack, showing that Woe can bare some sizable, nasty teeth amid all the tremolo picked harmonics. Closer “Hatred Is in Our Hearts” epitomizes the album mixing Woe classic black metal throes with gang chants and uncompromisingly nihilistic blackened thrash that sees Woe carve out their own niche amid the US black metal scene without bowing down to either forced brittle Scandinavian worship, post rock injections or self loathing depression.

At 43 minutes and 7 songs, Quietly, Undramatically seems like a quick listen, but with the 12 minute “Full Circle” taking center stage and drawing the listener into a sonic wormhole where time does not matter, and the fathomless cascade of riffs transcends your very being with each listen.

Grigg and Co have crafted something special here. Krallice, Cobalt and Wolves in the Throne Room special, but without sacrificing the raw tenets of black metal ancestry.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
October 13th, 2010

Comments

  1. Commented by: Dave

    I have this cd ordered and am anxiously awaiting it. This is one of those bands that I have only recently discovered and am glad I did.


  2. Commented by: Stevhan The Invincible

    I was ready to lump this in with all the hipster hugging USBM but I guess I’ll oughta check the promo out anyway then. Thanks for giving me more work man…


  3. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    dude, the introductory riff on the title track is retarded. this is a credit to the great state of PA.


  4. Commented by: vugelnox

    I liked their debut but sweet jesus this is a big improvement!


  5. Commented by: opy666

    I totally disagree…this is a huge step backwards…I listened to it twice and deleted it…extremely disappointing.


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