PICK OF THE WEEK: Woe’s scathing black metal blasts at faith, fear on firebreathing ‘Hope Attrition’

Photo by Samantha Marble

As black metal continues to add to its ranks and, admittedly take on a shit load of water, a return from one of the masters is a welcome thing. And so we have Woe rising back up to reclaim their rightful place among the sub-genre’s finest by creating a firestorm of an album only they can pull off.

“Hope Attrition” is the band’s fourth album and first in four years, since 2013’s great “Withdrawal,” and with that time has come a bit of change. The ranks have shuffled again, as longtime creator and leader Chris Grigg (guitars, vocals) and bassist Grzesiek Czapla (he’s also handled drums and guitars in the past for the band) now is joined by guitarist/vocalist Matt Mewton and drummer extraordinaire Lev Weinstein to round out this vicious new lineup. Another shift is with their old home Candlelight Records essentially deceased, they’ve caught on with the awesome Vendetta Records to release this new platter, which is filled with vitriol, spite, anger, disillusionment, and any other emotion that can rot your insides. The band is absolutely on fire, with Grigg sounding like his growls and shrieks are here to wake up a world that long has been lulled to sleep.

“Unending Call of Woe” is an ideal starting place, as riffs charge up, and the first part of the track unravels in a calculating pace. But then the song whips into gear, with Grigg howling, “This is a failure, and every wretched word is broken!” as things go off the rails and enter high speed. Grigg’s vocals go from virulent growl to mad shriek, as the band keeps crunching, guitars boil, and the song bleeds away. “No Blood Has Honor” is a firestorm, as the band rips away, and an assault on blind faith and the ramifications of fear spit from Grigg’s mouth. “When you close your eyes, how do you close your eyes? What could you know about honor?” Grigg stabs, as a blistering assault unfolds, and the whole thing comes to a hellacious end. “A Distant Epitaph” is an acoustic-tinged instrumental that is a needed comedown after what preceded it, and then it’s on to “The Din of the Mourning,” which tears out of the gates and rips them to shreds. The vocals practically screech with anger, while a tidal wave of melodies lap up on the shore with no warning, leaving any bystander running for shelter. The vocals are crazed, while the music loops into spirals, pushing off spirited guitar work and a steamrolling tempo. “We wait too long to live, we wait too long forever,” guest vocalist Brooks Wilson (Crypt Sermon, Trenchrot) calls, as the cut comes to a fiery finish.

“The Ones We Lost” tramples a mid-tempo path to start before it bursts open, and the vocals settle into strangulation mode. “How do I live with this atrocity? Who do I blame for this defeat?” Grigg howls, as the pace rips apart everything in its wake, leaving fallen buildings and lung-choking dust. The pace continues to wrench and chew away at flesh before it grinds to a finish. “Drown Us With Greatness” has a blazing opening, with scorching guitar work adding to the already agitated pace. The vocals breathe flames, as very decidedly black metal melodies trample over you, and some off-kilter passages aim to hypnotize and potentially nauseate. Gruff growls and unquestioned intensity unleash viciousness and drag to the song to its ending. Closer “Abject in Defeat” tramples in with drums rolls and strong riffs, as a channeled assault and thought-provoking lead guitar work unfurl and present a different side of Woe’s vitriol. Grigg’s vocals lurch and corrode, with him wailing, “All paths led out to sea, and slowly I discovered, this world is not for me.” That puts a painful, sobering exclamation point at the end of a song where fear and terror and the pressures of the surrounding world settle in and bring on self-implosion.

Having Woe back in our midst is a necessary and welcome thing, and “Hope Attrition” carves a deadly new path for the band, while acting as a wake-up call for a black metal terrain that often lacks teeth. Woe’s mission never has wavered and always has been here to shake, prod, and provoke, and as this new record proves, there are very few who could hold a candle to their rage.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.woeunholy.com/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.vendettarecords.bigcartel.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://vendettarecords.wordpress.com/

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