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Woe Of Tyrants - "Threnody" (CD)

Woe Of Tyrants - "Threnody" CD cover image

"Threnody" track listing:

1. Tetelestai (1:13)
2. Creatures Of The Mire (4:00)
3. Venom Eye (4:22)
4. Tempting The Wretch (4:25)
5. Threnody (6:27)
6. Bloodsmear (4:38)
7. The Venus Orbit (3:33)
8. Lightning Over Atlantis (4:24)
9. Singing Surrender (3:58)
10. Descendit Ad Inferos (The Harrowing Of Hell) (3:55)

Reviewed by on April 23, 2010

"Woe of Tyrants still needs to learn to write songs, not just music."

What would happen if Iron Maiden became warp speed melodic death metal? They would become five piece Woe of Tyrants, of course, but not in a good way. A thrash and speed focused death metal band, Woe of Tyrants has crafted their second full length as an album that is “a story of grief over losing oneself.” Well we certainly get lost in the maze of riffs, solos and screams, but when we finally get our bearings all we really have is an awkward headache.

The first full song “Creatures of the Mire” is an awkward attempt at brutality, particularly the ending pieces, like the band couldn’t quite get the timing of heaviness down right. “Venom Eye” really brings the band’s Iron Maiden worship to the fore – layered rhythm and solo guitars, rumbling bass and an aptly-named horror/fantasy theme do the trick nicely. But “Venom Eye” just sounds like Iron Maiden sped up, and nothing good comes through that increase. “Tempting the Wretch” has a breakdown of sorts, but it never actually breaks down, and ends up being another awkward moment where Woe of Tyrants gets caught between heavy and cliché.

By the end of the album all ten songs have melded into a hot piece of 32nd note and blast beat garbage. While many bands have made excellent albums with material that has little variation, that approach doesn’t work here. Mostly because Woe of Tyrants doesn’t have the magic songwriters touch. Most of the tracks are rough swaps between machine-sterile blast beats and avalanches of fretboard runs. While idols The Black Dahlia Murder and Between the Buried And Me have a good sense of dynamics, interplay and musicianship, even within similar sounding songs and albums, all Woe of Tyrants have is inspiration to whack on their instruments.

Now the band members individually are pretty good. Guitarists Nick Dozer and Matt Kincaid can both thrash, shred, and solo with the best of them, drummer Johnny Roberts is a whirlwind with the sticks, and vocalist Chris Catanzaro has good tone and a strong delivery. Bassist Shaun Gunter can keep up, but like most other death metal, he is mixed so far back he might as well not be there. But when these five get together and all play at the same time, it sounds like five extreme audition tapes played simultaneously. The result of everyone trying to impress at once is that nobody does, and the band’s performance suffers.

Woe of Tyrants do manage to hit a bit of a stride on the title track – a nicely picked acoustic opening leads into deft interplay between Dozer, Kincaid, Catanzaro, tempo changes and some symphonic highlights, but even this gets old by the sixth minute of the song. And there are some good layered counterpoints on “Bloodsmear,” but those last precious few seconds. It is clear that the component technical parts are there for success, but Woe of Tyrants still needs to learn to write songs, not just music.

Highs: The first half of the title track is pretty good.

Lows: The songwriting is awful – no sense of sense of variation or dynamics.

Bottom line: Awkward melodic death metal that is much less than the sum of its parts.

Rated 1 out of 5 skulls
1 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)