Answer the unending call (won't go to voicemail)
dB rating: 8/10
Release Date: March 17, 2017
Right now, Chris Grigg and Woe are the quintessential voice of USBM. Hell, let’s ditch the “US” from that statement altogether and embrace the record without meaningless national attachments. From Hope Attrition’s opening strains, the band sets about reinvigorating every infernal black metal convention—the blast beats, the blinding tremolo-picked chords, the hauntingly icy dissonance—by owning the shit out of every single deployment strategy. It doesn’t hurt that Grigg’s authoritative roar absolutely commands attention without interruption and obedience without question. If you weren’t snared by Quietly, Undramatically in 2010 or A Spell for the Death of Man before that, Woe’s latest record is a potent new example of what to put on for that metal-novice friend who asks what really good black metal sounds like.
Through some miraculous alchemy of unironic passion and scene-ripened experience, Grigg’s band makes punk-as-fuck rage sound as pristine as prog and makes ostentatious musicianship sound dirty and primal. Without indulging in any self-conscious “third wave” affectations, Woe have crafted 43 minutes of compelling discontent and one minute of close-miked acoustic contemplation (the surprisingly front-loaded “A Distant Epitaph”). And for all the genre devotion that floods Hope Attrition’s veins, Woe also find ways to let their sound breathe—bristling closer “Abject in Defeat” finds a proud solo piercing the blurry gray grind, and NYC all-star drummer Lev Weinstein showcases talent beyond speed. It may not be 2017’s first essential metal beast, but Hope Attrition sure ups the ante for anything that comes after it.
— Daniel Lake
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