Wednesday, 15 February 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Woe - “Hope Attrition”

By: Conor O’Dea


Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 17/03/2017
Label: Independent |
Vendetta





“This is music that is deeply rooted in darkness that still somehow manages to be transcendent and uplifting.  If you liked the incredible promise presented by “A Spell for the Death of Man”, this album exceeds it in every way. This is great metal, full stop.”


“Hope Attrition” DD track listing:

1). Unending Call of Woe
2). No Blood Has Honor
3). A Distant Epitaph
4). The Din of the Mourning
5). The Ones We Lost
6). Drown Us with Greatness
7). Abject in Defeat


The Review:

USBM has always been an interesting subgenre characterization for me. I have generally been of the school that geographies aren't exactly the most robust way to define a sound in a heavily globalized world. Labels like 'Cascadian', while lyrical and evocative, certainly extend beyond a specific geospatial location. Like all things boxed and categorized, we need to remind ourselves that while topographies may inspire certain sonic landscapes, the map is seldom the territory. Which is a very roundabout way of bringing me to the point that I do feel like there is something idiosyncratic in black metal that is made in America, but that something is very, very difficult to define. It is more like a visceral challenge to and disrespect for orthodoxy, movements, subgenres than anything tangible or even consciously intended. And this is neither borne of contrarian pretense nor some musical equivalent of obstinate defiance disorder: USBM bands make metal the way they want to. It is inflected and accented with the elements they choose and that's all there is to it.

Woe'sA Spell for the Death of Man” was a standout for me when released, and partially for these reasons, this was band that, for lack of a better description, sounded like themselves. Yes, you can hear their influences. Yes, you can see where the alchemy underpinning some of their ideas. But already in this debut, you can hear musicians keenly aware without fabricated neurosis of being overly self-conscious or possessed by self-conceit. They aren't trying or aiming for anything beyond that, and the results are savage and excellent. “Alone with our Failures” and “Wake in Mourning” are emblematic of this strong identity and musicianship. The promise of A Spell continued to bloom in sophomore effort “Quietly”, undramatically, but seemed to stagnate slightly in “Withdrawal”, which felt a little attenuated and listless by comparison. I can happily state that “Hope Attrition” is several steps beyond the debut and follow-up albums in both maturity and compositional excellence.

I have written a couple of times before on this blog about the importance of album cohesion, and this album has it in spades. Album opener “Unending Call of Woe” offers thick, mildly dissonant riffing, serving as the perfect introit for the conflagration that follows it. “No Blood Has Honor” has gone already as a song of the year pick for me, and I do not see it being bumped off the list. Anthemic, relentless, instantly memorable, it is the peak of an excellent album. “A Distant Epitaph” is a perfectly mournful acoustic interlude, but painfully short, given how beautiful it is. I would have liked to have seen this fleshed out a little more. Throughout the album, the raging but sorrowful melodicism of the second track sees expression in a variety of songs, which leads me to that strangest of black metal paradoxes: music that is deeply rooted in darkness that still somehow manages to be transcendent and uplifting. Leave it to black metal that emerged from New Jersey and grew up in New York to be as gritty as it is transformative. If you liked the incredible promise presented by “A Spell for the Death of Man”, this album exceeds it in every way. This is great metal, full stop


“Hope Attrition” is available to preorder/buy here. Vinyl will be available here






Band info: facebook || bandcamp

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