UK black metal maulers Wode mix dark creativity with sooty, smothering heaviness on debut

WodeThere’s an ever flowing stream of pessimism that often babbles underneath the writings here, because we are, inherently, kind of negative. Not to be a jerk or anything. It’s just sort of how things are. But that isn’t a constant thing as sometimes music and bands give us hope and a reason to think metal can keep growing and developing.

One huge beacon for hope is UK-based black metal squad Wode, whose debut self-titled record revitalizes our more positive side and makes us embrace the idea that we can, in fact, move forward. It feels weird to be filled with the power of positivity when dealing with a band whose sound swells with darkness and can make even the most creative things sound awash in pure death. On this record, the band drives six tracks over nearly 48 minutes, with each song a challenging length but never skimping on the power, imagination, and nightmarish vision that makes this band so good and also promising as to what their future holds.

Wode coverWode formed six years ago, based in Manchester and looking to do work that combines filth with visceral wonder. They bludgeon you hard and heavily no doubt, but their compositions also get your blood flowing and the synapses sparking within your brain. The band—M. Czerwoniuk (guitar and vocals), T. Horrocks (drums, guitar, and additional vocals), and E. Troup (bass)—bristle with energy and power, adding emotion and metallic sharpness to their work that always leaves your mind wandering, your head spinning. Their work is just damn impressive, and I almost want to shut up and tell you to just go listen to this thing already. But, alas, we have a job to do here.

“Death’s Edifice” starts the record with eerie noises and clean guitars before opening its gates for sprawling riffs, fluid black metal melodies, and harsh growls. The vocals begin to scrape along the way, while the tempo charges hard, heading into a patch of swirling melodies, violent eruptions that happen to be damn catchy, and a thunderous assault that drives up dust toward its finish. “Trails of Smoke” is built on speedy riffs, a crunching tempo, and a steamrolling assault, with the band finding great fire behind their playing. The path remains fast and frightening, with death bubbling out of every corner, and a really thrashing chorus that sticks out and jabs you. “Cloaked in Ruin” bathes in feedback before morbid-sounding guitars make their way in, and the song ignites. The growls are vicious and smothering, with riffs rising out of the ashes, and the band stampeding. The back end of the song goes mournful, with the final moments burning away.

“Spectral Sun” tears open, with the drums blistering, riffs piling on top of each other, and the growls punishing. Thick melodies rain down, as the mood turns toward a dark thunderstorm, and the track keeps getting uglier. Later on, the leads sprawl, melodies twist, and the final touches of manic fury leave their bruising. “Plagues of Insomnia” takes its time to unfurl, with the track situating into a middle tempo, mashing away at the same time. The vocals are harsh and throat mangling, while the band builds the scathing drama, and all elements fold into each other. Cold and clean playing is worked in, while soloing snakes through the cut, with guitars spilling down for a devastating finish. Closer “Black Belief” blows down the gates, with horrifying growls chilling your blood and the band hitting full throttle. Melodies flutter through this thing, with some freezing clean playing making its way into the mix, thrashy power setting in, and the band luring you into hypnosis. As you feel your eyelids getting heavier, the band keeps punching away until consciousness no longer is under your control.

Wode’s style and tenacity should take them a long way, as should their creativity. This self-titled debut is one of the most interesting first shots of the year, a true bright spot in what’s all too often a dim black metal kingdom. As Wode find their way through the world, they’re bound to damage flesh and hearing, pain we’ll be all too happy to sustain.

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