Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Woe: Withdrawal (2013)

Trying My Best Not to Make a "Woe Is Me" Joke

Woe began as a one-man black metal band, but 2010’s critically acclaimed Quietly, Undramatically marked their first outing as a full band. That one was written more or less by the original member, Chris Grigg, but the follow-up Withdrawal is reportedly a truly full-band effort.

Writing credits notwithstanding, Woe still plays fast, deceptively simple US-style black metal of the kind that (at least I imagine) really pisses off any Scandinavian wearing gauntlets. But there are some noticeable differences. The most evident change is that the drums are no longer the primary instrument. Where Quietly had drums play the aggressive part and gave them a prominent place in the mix, Withdrawal gives them a more traditional role. Which is not to say that they’ve started blasting all the time; far from it. But they are much less central to the music.

There is also an uptick in eclecticism. Quietly didn’t suffer from too much predictability, but Withdrawal takes it a step further. Hard rock leads play a part in “Carried by Waves . . .”, and there’s an incredible heavy metal riff to kick-start “Song of My Undoing.” “Ceaseless Jaws” dips into WITTR-style black metal, and clean or acoustic strumming pop up in a couple places.

Some things don’t change, sadly. As with the last record, the bass is only really noticeable for part of the last song. What gives?

The songs are interesting, and the disparate elements are, mostly, brought into a cohesive style. The production is your typical Colin Marston job (his name doesn’t keep showing up everywhere just because it’s nice to have some eye candy in the studio). He does a great job at capturing a generic black metal sound, but I think everyone involved in this album missed a big opportunity. What brought Quietly to the next level was the drumming. You turn that down, and pay less attention to the details there, well, that’s like benching your star player. It might still be a joy to watch the game, but at the same time, it’s disappointing.

Then again, it looks like Candlelight released a remixed version of Quietly. So maybe I'm the only one who liked that mix.

The Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars

1 comment:

  1. instead of woe is me, how about joey lawrence's favorite band?