Woe: Quietly, Undramatically

As it was with Philadelphia black metal outfit Woe’s 2007 debut, A Spell For The Death Of Man, the prevailing atmosphere on Quietly, Undramatically is hateful and misanthropic. American black metal, by reputation, has nothing on the Scandinavian branch of the genre, but Woe mastermind Chris Grigg is every bit as pissed off as any Norwegian I’ve yet come across, and if you’ve ever spent time in Philly in the winter, you know it gets plenty cold.

There are a few interesting turns Grigg—who is joined for the first time in Woe by a full band—makes on Quietly, Undramatically, including the 12-minute semi-psychedelic cut “Full Circle,” the back end of which owes much to post-hardcore guitar infused onto black metal drumming, and closer “Hatred Is Our Heart,” which has—wait for it—gang vocals. Gang shouts on a black metal record? Not something you hear every day, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work just as well as the straight-ahead pummel, thrash and tear of the eight-minute title track or the familiar squibbly riffs of “A Treatise On Control” earlier in the album. Griggs reserves most of the melody for the guitars, but there are also some clean vocals on “Quietly, Undramatically” that are as welcome as they are unexpected. It’s nice to hear someone take chances within a genre so bent on strict conformity to aesthetic.

And by nice, I mean grim.

Those inducted in the blackly metallic arts will probably find little revolutionary in Woe’s latest, but the band as a unit, and Griggs as a songwriter, are really just catching a foothold on the sound they want to make, and with the intricacy shown on these seven cuts, there’s the potential for them to accomplish something really special going forward.

In A Word: Claw