Written by: MST on 10/07/2013 15:16:39

It was with no small amount of nostalgia that I approached "Withdrawal", the third album by American black metallers Woe. The band's second album, "Quietly, Undramatically", was my official debut as a writer for this webzine. That sophomore album didn't impress me intensely, so after more than two years I was eager to find out how Woe circa 2013 would sound.

"Withdrawal" is first and foremost a much more mature album than its predecessor was. Although I really liked the production on the band's 2011 effort back then, I definitely prefer the clearer and crisper sound on this new one; it's distorted, dirty and disgusting, yet completely audible in all aspects. The songwriting has also been turned up a notch, with no songs meandering for longer periods of time. Most of the songs are intense, and always seem to be going somewhere. The razor riffs reinvent themselves constantly on the album's highlights, and the rhythm department makes sure that all attention follows the natural flow of the music. Main composer, lead guitarist and head vocalist Chris Grigg's high pitch vocals are everpresent as always, and with the new production his screams don't echo like they did previously.

As has been the case with too many albums I've listened to of late however, the album's most impressive songs are the first few, while the second half of the album is slightly less captivating. Opener "This is the End of the Story" immediately overwhelms the listener with its aggressive and downright angry approach to melancholic black metal. The drums, riffs and carefully composed verses and choruses with Grigg and bassist Grzesiek Czapla's vocals are all factors that make it a track that forebodes excellence. The mood of the album changes with album highlight "All Bridges Burned", a track that completely surrenders to melancholy exactly the way I like it, with depressive lyrics and a great climax towards the end of the song.

Woe's third opus has left more of an impact on me than the previous one did when I wrote that debut review of mine. But as hinted at above, the fantastic first three tracks just aren't followed up properly by the rest of the songs on the album; there's lots of anger in them , but I feel like it's not being fully utilized in tracks like "Song of My Undoing" and "Exhausted", although especially the latter of those definitely has its high points. I should probably have rated "Quietly, Undramatically" half a grade lower, and thus my grading here should be interpreted like this: I really liked "Withdrawal", and not just for the nostalgia of reviewing another record by these Americans, but there are still things that I believe could be done much better in the future. With that in mind I definitely wouldn't hesitate to pick up the band's next records should they continue playing their self-proclaimed "black metal against hope".

Download: This is the End of the Story, Carried by Waves to Remorseless Shores of the Truth, All Bridges Burned,
For The Fans Of: Krallice, Skagos, Cobalt
Listen: Bandcamp

Release date: 22.04.2013
Candlelight Records

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