WOE CD reviewed by Luc Rodgers
Feb 10, 2009, 14:47
WOE A Spell for the Death of Man CD
The United States has traditionally lagged behind the rest of the world in having anything noteworthy in the black metal genre. In recent years, however, things have changed greatly in both amount and quality. Sure we can claim longstanding Angelcorpse, jaw-dropping Nachtmystium, and the ever-dangerous Leviathan among the ranks, but the fact remains that the scariest, spine-tingling, unholy sounds come from Europe. As the Internet continues to change the way people purchase, and more importantly hear about, music, new discoveries occur far more often than in any other time in history. How else would one be able to hear about the relentless and masterful A Spell for the Death of Man by Philadelphia's WOE?
Another one-man project, C. Grigg's (sometimes referred to as Xon) WOE has surprisingly only been at it since 2007. Before anything else, the most amazing thing about this record is that it is only one man. The aforementioned Leviathan and Xasthur have held the reigns for stateside one-man black metal for many years so the concept is nothing new. What is new is that it has never sounded soâ€¦uh ohâ€¦well produced. Purists, leave the room. Fresh minds come closeâ€¦
A Spellâ€¦ opens with “Solitude,” a mid-tempo, ultra mid/high black metal guitar changing on the 1s and setting the mood for what could really be anything. It will be here, after the retard, that we will have either a carbon copy of most one-man projects (A: lurching, simple, nearly unlistenable static wrapping the screams of a raped feline. B: atmospheric soundscapes classified as black metal merely because of the logo and the album art.) or something else completely. This is not only the latter, but after “Solitude” finally opens up one instantly realizes that not only is this special, it is truly unique. Everything finds it's pocket in the mix so as to distinguish and enjoy Grigg's undeniable talent on each instrument involved; while the drums evoke the simple black metal fury of 1349's Frost and, after moving into half time, the guitars find the groove of a well-written riff opening up the scratchy roar of Grigg himself, vomiting his unholy proclamations. It is all placed so perfectly so as to yield the intended outcome—listenable fury.
“Alone With Our Failures” relieves the listener as WOE reveals that not all evil is built on speed. The lumbering army of guitars excrete hate but with an underlying melody that reeks of thought-out, purposeful music. As the blast beats unsurprisingly rear up nothing is lost in the thickness. The kicks rumble forward but still retain the clarity so often lost in the race for being the loudest and fastest. The melodic guitar crawls and climbs of “Condemned as Prey” further enlighten WOE's malleability and fresh outlook so as to not be merely a “black metal band,” but a “band” first and foremost. Throughout the continuation of A Spellâ€¦, closing number “Memento Mori” slowly burns and screams to let all know that this is merely just the beginning.
Black metal, in all of its exciting and, more often than not, predictability can become stale and lose the power and recklessness that gave it a voice in the first place. WOE's A Spell for the Death of Man shows that the game is not over and even if it left to a single person things can always remain poignant and relevant in any time. One just has to think it through and remember why this music exists in the first place. [Stronghold]