Woe – Hope Attrition

It’s not a bad time for the American Black Metal scene. Seems like every year we’re getting superb releases from upstarts and institutions like Leviathan, Krallice, Nachtmystium (RIP), Wolves In The Throne Room, Vattnet Viskar, and dare I say, Deafheaven. Woe, and their latest album, Hope Attrition (Vendetta) are no exception to this budding tradition.

I think what’s most enticing about this series of domestic Black Metal offerings is that there is no pretense or ceremony. Since it’s less about putting on sad clown makeup and posing in the woods the love to this twisted art form shines through. And before you ship out all of your hate mail and battleaxes, know that I’m not throwing the Norway scene under the bus. I have many Darkthrone, Satyricon and Mayhem CDs on my shelves. But we all must admit that the kvlt shenanigans have reached Spinal Tap levels of absurd.

Personal disclaimer aside, the mission statement for Hope Attrition clearly read “songwriting and thoroughness above all else”. This is a solid Black Metal album, or just a great Heavy Metal album, in general, as you have no waste. Every song deserves its place. ‘Unending Call of Woe’ starts off with a total disdain for conventional dynamics; it’s a stormy ocean of sinister riffs that switches from full speed ahead blasts to a menacing crawl. The album closes with the most traditional sounding (in terms of Black Metal) and possibly best song, ‘Abject in Defeat’ which is a spider web of jagged riffs and chilling atmosphere.

Everything else in between these two behemoths is also killer; ‘No Blood has Honor’ is a close runner up for best track, with its churning guitars (hell of a solo included) and merciless pace set by drummer Lev Weinstein and ‘The Din of the Mourning’ has an attention to detail and enough melody peppered in to show an appreciation for technical craftsmen like Emperor.

I’m planning on spending much more time with this one. Not bad for a bunch of colonials.