"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Woe - "Hope Attrition" (CD)

Woe - "Hope Attrition" CD cover image

"Hope Attrition" track listing:

1. Unending Call of Woe (8:38)
2. No Blood Has Honor (6:17)
3. A Distant Epitaph (0:50)
4. The Din of the Mourning (7:14)
5. The Ones We Lost (7:55)
6. Drown Us with Greatness (5:18)
7. Abject in Defeat (7:26)

Reviewed by on March 1, 2017

"With the world ever sliding deeper into shit and the news constantly playing like somebody's bad idea of an utterly black comedy, I can't imagine a better soundtrack to the end of civilization."

Weird to think I've been following Woe for nearly a decade now and we're somehow reaching album number four with “Hope Attrition.” The lyrical content focus has clearly shifted – we've gone from spells against gods and men to a hopeless recanting of the sorry state of the 2017 world – but the music has been solidly working on improving an existing template. With all those tweaks and improvements over the years, “Hope Attrition” stands as the definitive Woe experience that will alternately pummel you into submission or drag you down into a despair so deep you won't even consider wasting the effort to turn the music off.

Having been listening closely to the progress of Woe for album after album as the project went from solo to full band, there's a clear sound easily identifiable as Chris Grigg and his companions. The music is unmistakable black metal rooted in the U.S. tradition (alongside some nods to the older European roots), with an instantly recognizable drum beat pattern. Where Woe's trademark sound probably comes through the strongest is in the circular feel to the guitar riffs that repeat in modified ways while working through eight minute tracks.

Across these seven gloomy offerings, “Hope Attrition” has a seriously dissonant style on display. There's always this twisted sort of melody in the song writing, mixing incredibly aggressive and forceful black metal with a completely nihilistic atmosphere. Vocally there's been a bit of a shift from the earlier albums, with most of the extreme vocals going lower on the register than the previous high pitched shrieks, offering something inbetween your standard death and black metal sounds.

Woe's fourth full-length studio offering sits in this perfect niche spot where the take on black metal isn't either too modern and straying from the genre's roots, or too kvlt old school either. “Hope Attrition” has its own sound apart from what's offered by other black metal bands but at the same time doesn't feel the need to totally recreate the wheel. With the world ever sliding deeper into shit and the news constantly playing like somebody's bad idea of an utterly black comedy, I can't imagine a better soundtrack to the end of civilization.

Highs: The abrasive U.S. black metal style is tempered with a wider range of metallic influences

Lows: As with many releases in this particular realm, the relentless drum pummeling can get a little repetitive and overbearing

Bottom line: If you've lamented the lack of quality USBM lately, Woe is here to rectify that for the remaining few years civilization has left.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls


Key
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)