Wo Fat

The Black Code

Written by: TAJ on 30/12/2012 17:39:40

My initial thought when picking up this record was "Wo Fat - that's an odd band name". But after my first spin my puzzled state ceased and now I can't help but think of it as "woow fat" as Wo Fat plays crispy and fuzzy stoner rock in a way that just sounds really fat!

To get a bit more detailed, their approach to this wall of heavy sound is quite reminiscent of acts like Kyuss with a drop C tuned bass and mid-tempo drums, topped with a fuzzy guitar that performs extremely solid riffs. I am not all too familiar with Wo Fat's older material, but it seems they have been infusing their music with a lot of doom in past days as well. The doom has been downplayed on their fourth record "The Black Code", but it is still present and serves well in for example slower passages, which is one of the reasons they sound so fat. The way doom is incorporated in these five tracks is just enough to make it heavy, yet never so dense it interferes with the ass-kicking straightforward stoner element. It just seems natural.

So they master riffage driven parts, which make up most of the album, but a lot of times is also dedicated to psychedelic jam improvisation parts. Actually every song apart from intro "Lost Highway" eventually progresses into such. These come off equally natural which is good, as some bands struggle with transitioning between such modes and hence can end up appearing forced.

Opposed to many other artists on this scene, that also draw heavy inspiration from older bands, Wo Fat do not try to make their sound retro. As a result "The Black Code" is of really high production value which I find a great choice, because no moments of instruments blurring together appear. That said, the band have still managed to summon the warmth of analog production which adds very nicely to a hot desert feel that especially Southern American stoner rock is often associated with. They have cracked the (black) code so to speak, and found a nice medium between modern and old school sound recording-wise.

There's a long list of positive details that explain why Wo Fat stick out or why what they do works so great, but I will leave it up to you to find out by listening yourself, partly to make room for a few remarks about flaws. To begin with I find that the vocals are great but I can't help but feel they aren't imbued with enough power to match the oh so dense thickness of the instruments. Regardless of how you look at it, it would be daring to proclaim that Wo Fat add anything refreshingly new to the genre. However I will say they have managed to bring the heaviness of stoner rock a notch up (or should I say down) and "The Black Code" will definitely serve as a proud addition to any stoner rock lover's collection.

Download: The Black Code, Hurt Is Gone, Sleep of The Black Lotus.
For The Fans Of: Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Sleep, Truckfighters.
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Release Date 13.10.2012
Smallstone Records

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