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Woe - "Quietly, Undramatically" (CD)

Woe - "Quietly, Undramatically" CD cover image

"Quietly, Undramatically" track listing:

1. No Solitude (2:31)
2. The Road From Recovery (6:01)
3. Quietly, Undramatically (8:04)
4. A Treatise On Control (6:22)
5. Without Logic (2:24)
6. Full Circle (12:58)
7. Hatred Is Our Heart (4:50)

Reviewed by on September 6, 2010

"Now a full band instead of a solo effort, Woe has kept the old school black metal roots but dropped the Scandinavian worship in 'Quietly, Undramatically.'"

A little over a year ago, Woe’s “A Spell For the Death of Man” (reviewed here) was an example of the sort of depressing, bleak, and extreme black metal that can be created when one guy has a vision that won’t be deterred by a lack of band members. Fast forward to the present, and Woe is suddenly on a whole new level. Now a full band instead of a solo effort, Woe has kept the old school black metal roots but dropped the Scandinavian worship in “Quietly, Undramatically.”

This album is full-on U.S. black metal, and it has its own sound that doesn’t need to emulate the pioneers any longer. Much like with “A Spell for the Death of Man,” Woe continues to eschew keyboards and synth work altogether. To be honest, they don’t need them. The band is more than capable of creating an atmosphere or mood just by changing the tone of the guitar or throwing in a different drum beat. Then there’s the fact that the bassist actually has a purpose in Woe. While it is muted and buried in parts, the bass is still solidly present for a significant portion of the album.

The opening guitar work and drum beats on “No Solitude” are vastly removed from what would be expected of a black metal release, going for a more melodic feel, while still maintaining a raw and dark undercurrent. “Quietly, Undramatically” is full of little quirks and surprises that continuously draw the music away from strict old school black metal. The blast beats have been scaled back by about 75%, there are gang yells on “Hatred is our Heart,” and the title track has a sudden and very unexpected bout of clean singing.

Probably the biggest different between old and new Woe is the level of energy filling the music. Even when the sound is at its bleakest, there is still an undeniable force behind the music, making it something that inspires head banging. Although there isn’t anything overtly psychedelic going on, the album very strongly brings to mind Nachtmystium’s brand of black metal.

“Quietly, Undramatically” makes plenty of nods to the past, with slightly downplayed production and vocals lower in the mix, while frequently breaking out of the bonds of pure black metal. The album has a huge amount of variation, and tacks on enough unforeseen twists to keep even the most jaded metal fan listening for the whole run time. Fans of U.S. black metal need to make a point of keeping up with Woe.

Highs: Amazing guitar tones that buck the black metal trends, the drums don't just blast on endlessly, and the bass makes an appearance.

Lows: The sound is still a little muted, and the vocals are frequently lower in the mix.

Bottom line: This album marks Woe as a new force to be reckoned with in the U.S. black metal scene.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 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)