Genre: Black Metal
Label: Candlelight Records
Now, there’s already a review of Quietly, Undramatically up on this site, but as my first review I wanted to get off to a good start, and thought I’d go for a release I really loved. Curiously enough, it was through reading on this website that I was introduced to Woe, so I figured where better to start? Here goes…
Woe are one of those bands that absolutely everybody seems to love at the minute. and 22 seconds into Track 2 of Quietly, Undramatically (“The Road From Recovery”), I can see why, this shit’s killer. It’s like a well produced Vordr or to make an even better comparison, it’s pure Under The Sign era Bathory, in terms of the actual music, it’s definitely Black Metal, but also very thrashy (read: VERY thrashy) and very Hardcore at the same time. It conforms much to the typical song structures of Black Metal, little in the way of verse/chorus/bridge/verse/chorus, but also the band wears its influences on its sleeve, the little breakdown in “The Road from Recovery” could have been on a Black Flag album 30 years ago but of course, everyone knows it is the spirit and atmosphere of a Black Metal record that makes or breaks it, rather than strictly the musicianship. In terms of Musicianship, if you want to hear basically the same album as Quietly, Undramatically but much less polished, go listen to Fuck Off And Die’s Anti All (2008, ). The difference between Woe and other such Punky/Thrashy BM outfits is definitely the atmosphere. Close your eyes when listening to this album and you could be standing in the room with the band when they recorded it, you can feel the energy literally flowing from your speakers, the whole thing has the air of a train that could derail at any second, whether it’s at a fast segment, a mid-paced atmospheric riff or even the slow, hardcore punk-ish breakdowns, it gives the impression it could explode into literally just frantic noise at any moment, but doesn’t, it keeps you on that razor’s edge of “oh shit what’s coming next” and “wow, they went there?!” without fucking up once, and it’s very rare that an album manages to pull this off on any tracks, let alone all of them.
The absolute stand-out moment of this album is the melodic/atmospheric clean section from 4:20 onwards in the track “Quietly, Undramatically”. Within seconds of this segment starting you can see why they named the album after this track, it’s probably the most ingenious bit of Black Metal I’ve heard in a long time. It is literally a case of Woe has taken musical ideas very often applied to progressive Hardcore Punk, think Dead Swans, Throats or La Dispute, multiplied by the atmospheric polyrhythm of progressive metal such as Fellsilent, and applied them to Black Metal, in a way I believe is completely unheard of. The clean vocals are a complete surprise, and the guitar that flows in and around them is beautiful and melancholy at the same time, the drums syncopated yet pounding, it’s literally hypnotic, and the only track I can name that it sounds anything like is “Oblique” by Fellsilent, which is the same idea but applied to a genre other than Black Metal. And then it kicks into pure raw black metal fury. Fucking beast.
Now, let’s talk about production. If there’s a bassist in this band, then I don’t think anyone would notice if he quit. I can hear 2 audible guitars, a vocalist and a drummer. Whoever produced this certainly knows what they were doing, the drums have a thick, earthy sound that’s more like modern Hardcore or Death Metal, yet the way they are mixed, they ebb and flow around and underneath the guitars, never masking them or diverting from them, they support them rather than play over them. The guitars are also mixed very well, unless each guitar is playing the same thing its always clear which one is doing something, and the vocals, while a little loud at first, by the end of the album whoever was mixing has them perfectly in the mix. It’s also very rare to have catchy hooks in BM. Half an hour after turning off this record I still have the floating, flowing and mesmeric riff from “A Treatise On Control” stuck in my head. Beasty. All in all, this album easily lives up to the hype that it has gained, and If they put out another like this then Woe ought to cement their place as leaders of the new USBM scene, I can only imagine people trying to sound just like this but not quite pulling it off for the next 10 years (Just like when Xasthur appeared and then every USBM band copied them for a little while, I think Woe will be the next band everyone rips off).
I would give this a 10 out of 10, but there’s no such thing as a perfect record, one man’s amazing is another man’s utter shite. And for the reasons why I would give this a 10, im sure many kvlt purists would score this a 0. Well, fuck them. This peculiar blend of modern Hardcore Punk, Thrash and atmospheric BM is fucking amazing. Buy it now, if you can.