01 November 2010
by Tom Dare
Americans are supposed to be rubbish at three things – football, brewing beer, and black metal. In reality, the US drew with England at the World Cup, has one of the best ranges of microbreweries anywhere in the world, and as long as they’re producing records like Woe’s second album Quietly, Undramatically, they’ve got some of the most interesting and exciting black metal bands of recent times.
Perhaps some of USBM’s lesser reputation is to do with the different feel it often comes with. While the classic uber-necro Scandinavian records are cold and frosty, American bands generally sound somewhat thawed in comparison. The snow-carpeted pine forests of Norway sound a long way from Woe’s mind, but what they lack in ice, Woe make up for with pure misery. The landscape may be less bleak, but the atmosphere is as grim as you could ever ask. Quietly, Undramatically is a dark and miserable experience, right from the outset.
Opening with a tremendous sliding riff that sounds a little like Alice In Chains’ ‘Check My Brain’ – only not that cheerful or comfortable – the slow, almost doomy ‘No Solitude’ gives way to the furious negativity of ‘The Road From Recovery’. ‘A Treatise In Control’ further emphasises the sheer hopelessness of all that has come before, the tortured vocals in rhythmic partnership with a melodic riff of pure despondency forming the centrepiece of a monument to gloom. The brief interlude of ‘Without Logic’ forms a steady crescendo, before dropping back for the epic ‘Full Circle’ and the more succinct ‘Hatred Is Our Heart’ closes the album out decisively.
Watch Woe play the title track from Quiet, Undramatically live:
Woe’s choice of album title could frankly be sued for false advertising – the only people who could consider this quiet and un-dramatic are probably watching a Motorhead gig in a fireworks factory. Woe express themselves clearly and eloquently, articulating their horrible dejection with unpredictable twists and turns, rapid-fire sheet metal riffage and blast beats up to your eyeballs. That myth about American black metal being shit seems to be crumbling rather rapidly.
Sounds like: Older Nachtmystium, less necro Xasthur
Top tracks: The Road From Recovery, Quietly, Undramatically A Treatise On Control
Woe – Quietly, Undramatically tracklisting:
The Road From Recovery
A Treatise On Control
Hatred Is Our Heart