Review Summary: An ambitious, cathartic surprise.
If I could break the reviewing rule of speaking in the first person, Woe is a difficult band for me to review. Having delved little into Black Metal, I couldn't inform the listener of how original the material is and who they are influenced by. The record retains the most recognizable elements of the genrel(raw production, tremolo-picked riffs, blast beats), but doesn't really expand beyond them. And due to the small amount of Black Metal I own, I couldn't really state where Woe fit in the style. However, the most remarkable element of Quietly, Undramatically
is how straight-to-the-point their aesthetic is. The music is devoid of cliches and stresses their dependence from the more theatrical side of the genre, while clearly respecting their influences. Woe waste no time with superfluity, constantly pummeling the listener with an onslaught of intricate riffs, with brilliantly drumming keeping the songs tight and energetic. The subtle brilliance of their new LP unfolds in a manner similar to the progressive nature of their songcraft, building through the more obvious sections into something climactic, not unlike a post-rock band. Tracks like "The Road from Recovery" epitomize this dynamic, with metallic riffs and fast-paced percussion resolving in cathartic screams, while tracks like a "Treatise on Control" peak several times. By the time album centerpiece "Full Circle" sets in, Quietly, Undramatically
transcends from a Black Metal record to its own entity, an emotive monster building through frantic cries, feverish musicianship, only to die down into an acoustic dirge.
On their new release, Woe have released a record that is believable. There's no pretension, Chris Grigg's vocal performance sounding earnest and pained. While not as heavy as their last record, the band's focus around less dissonant, more musical guitar parts enhance the passion that is so clear in the music. The previously mentioned lack of knowledge that I have of the genre that Woe espouse is all the better for the listen, leaving a record that is digested not as a culmination of its influences but an honest statement from a passionate band. Without any superficialities, Quietly, Undramatically
is one of the most impressive metal records of the year.