Review Summary: Wo Fat's most accomplished and most accessible record yet.
Texas riffmasters, Wo Fat, return with their 4th offering entitled The Black Code
, their shortest and arguably the most accomplished record out yet. With their previous efforts, the band had problems trimming the track list to a manageable length, but on The Black Code
, each of the five tunes bring something different to the table, summing all of the band's qualities into an impressive 46 minute set.
Following the steps of last year's Noche Del Chupacabra
, that relied loosely on jamming (especially on the title track), The Black Code
tightens the tested formula into a more dynamic affair. Wo Fat keep the engine running until the very end by constantly shifting gears, adding lots of epic solos, while guitarist Kent Stump's vocals are more spot on than ever. The best example is the title track, as it shows the ever increasing chemistry between the three members, growing from a main fat groove to a tight, heavy riffing jam in the middle. At one point, the guitar finally takes off and lets loose the awaited solo with great effect. Overall, "The Black Code" doesn't feel as unified as the rest of the songs, since there are two distinct parts merged together, but somehow works and sounds really good.
Also, the two shortest songs here pack some great action, as opener "Lost Highway" immediately brings out the big guns, starting with an infectious stoner riff, before bursting into a mid-paced monster with killer vocals. Its straightforward structure reveals the core of the band's more stretched affairs, thus indicating what's to come. On the other hand, "Hurt At Gone" surfaces the Southern influences the record boasts, featuring some hard hitting tribal-like drumming, along with some cool fuzzy slide licks and a strong jam towards the end.
The last two songs carry out the more experimental side of Wo Fat hinted on their previous record, Noche Del Chupacabra
. "The Shard Of Leng" delves more into psychedelic territory with a lengthy intro containing a hypnotic bass line and several ambient guitar washes, before turning into a fast paced groove monster. The changes are smooth and the band constantly adds new layers then reaching a climax at the last two minutes with a scorching riff complemented by keyboard tweaks. "Sleep Of The Black Lotus" is a great album closer, summarizing really neat what the band's capable of. The whole song feels like an extended jam with slower, fat riffs rounded up with long solos. It's nothing different from Wo Fat's relative simple formula, but it sounds damn good and that's enough.
In the end, it really feels like Wo Fat have reached a creative peak and outdone themselves with The Black Code
. With each record they have sharpened their skills, tightened their riffs and the loose jam outings into a more solid formula that's really paying off. The band could use more experimenting outside their comfort zone, but so far they're really masters in their own genre and their music proves that. For stoners, this record is golden and hard rock and metal fans unaccustomed with Wo Fat mustn't miss this record.