Reviews Woe Withdrawal

Woe

Withdrawal

Having began life as a one-man project borne from the mind of Chris Grigg, Woe’s motive was one of total aggression and pure hate and signified a time when American black metal was only just starting to find its feet within the darker realms of the musical sphere. With A Spell for the Death of Man Grigg stepped forward and laid his entire heart out for all to see and what followed was a personal and introspective work of despair. With 2010s Quietly, Undramatically Woe finally became a full band (although Grigg still wrote the lyrics and music for everything) and Woe was becoming something quite interesting indeed. Skip to today, and Withdrawal is the sound of a group working together to overcome internal demons and outside pressures. Songs have been constructed by fellow members Ben Brand (guitar), and ex-drummer Ruston Grosse (the drum stool is now occupied by Shawn Eldridge) and bassist Grzesiek Czapla takes on a heck of a lot of vocal lines. It’s these new curves and bends that give Withdrawal its constantly threatening atmosphere of total annihilation and the different tones and styles that are incorporated serve only to heighten the tension rather than take away from the black metal aesthetic that courses through its unholy veins.

Withdrawal is wonderfully dense with huge walls of guitar countering the rough vocal edges of Grigg and opening track “This Is the End of the Story” bursts forth in massive waves of sound that are always teetering on the edge of abandon yet Withdrawal pulls off a semblance of control amongst all that whirling noise. Woe have taken charge of their fate and whereas before the band may have wallowed in the misery and anguish, here they grab it with both hands and scream and shout and sing (clean vocals are used here to tremendous effect) for the demise of life, of hope and the future. This record is once again a deeply personal work and it seems as though the lyrics this time around mean much more than anything else Grigg has put down so far. That’s not to say that Woe lyrics from the past have no meaning, far from it, but on that particular subject Chris could not be drawn to expand on a previous conversation we’d had although he touched about it lightly during our recent interview.

“Carried by Waves to Remorseless Shores of the Truth” is a furious attack in terms of structure and aggression and the bile spat by Grigg and Czapla - trading off each other with a reckless authority - is grisly and punctuated by a shortness kept only for the lowest of the low and despite the vocals being hidden slightly in the mix, that attitude comes through the sludge with a terrifying precision. The punk swagger of “Song of my Undoing” turns Withdrawal completely around and it’s almost jaunty in its approach with gang shouts and upbeat tones galore. Of course, such revelry is short lived and Woe soon turn the track into a different beast entirely. Slow passages of ruin are shot through with gorgeous and sweetly sang words which are in turn destroyed by a sudden forwards motion into speed-led wails. It’s, for want of a better term, an emotional rollercoaster, and you truly feel the passion at the core of this particular track. 

“Exhausted” pulls through a grimy shade of despair before “Withdrawal” closes the album with heartachingly beautiful guitar riffs that echo with the promise of loss and the need to retreat back within the self. Woe rips your core right out with the final strains of shimmering torment and the withdrawal is complete. Draining.

9.0 / 10Cheryl
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9.0 / 10

9.0 / 10

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