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Woe - "Withdrawal" (CD)

Woe - "Withdrawal" CD cover image

"Withdrawal" track listing:

1. This is the End of the Story
2. Carried by Waves to Remorseless Shores of the Truth
3. All Bridges Burned
4. Ceaseless Jaws
5. Song of My Undoing
6. Exhausted
7. Withdrawal

Reviewed by on April 25, 2013

"Woe now pens another chapter in the story of U.S. black metal, keeping up many of the time-honored traditions, while playing with a few new elements."

Rising from a one man project to a full band with label backing, Woe has come a long way since debut full-length “A Spell For the Death of Man.” Continuing the evolution on second album “Quietly, Undramatically,” Woe now pens another chapter in the story of U.S. black metal, keeping up many of the time-honored traditions, while playing with a few new elements.

As far as the base sound goes, Woe is still black metal of the epically kvlt variety. All the instruments can be heard, but the production is kept fuzzier for an old-school feel, and the vocals are, of course, pushed down in the mix. The previous album stripped out the Scandinavian influences, and this one goes even further by adding in some unexpected extras that are very American indeed. The endless blast beats and relentless screams are propped up this time around by the surprise appearance of thrash and traditional metal guitar solos and backing riffs.

These non-black metal elements appear on nearly every song “Withdrawal” has to offer, but make no mistake, this is still bleak and raw to the max. The more energetic guitar tones are essentially window dressing and not serious changes in the primary sound, even if they do add an interesting extra layer of atmosphere. In addition, a few other plot twists are written into this new tale of Woe, like the acoustic intro to “All Bridges Burned,” or the punk aesthetic and unexpected clean vocals on “Song Of My Undoing.”

As a whole, the album stands up well in the Woe discography and shows a band trying new things without losing its base identity. Those few missteps present (“Exhausted,” for instance, lives up to its name via unnecessary repetition) can really be overlooked based on the overall high quality, as Woe continues to keep the old-school alive, while also exploring more modern sounds.

Highs: It's old-school black metal filtered through a more modern sound.

Lows: Repetition is a problem on some tracks, and not everyone will dig the new punk and thrash elements.

Bottom line: Woe continues to champion an old school USBM sound, while injecting a couple of extra ideas in to keep things fresh.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)