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Album Review: Woe – Hope Attrition

The last time we heard from Brooklyn-based black metal outfit Woe was back in 2013, when they released their third full-length Withdrawal. On tracks like “This is the End of the Story” and “All Bridges Burned,” band mastermind Chris Grigg and co. adroitly balanced a fierce melodicism with an almost feral rage, and it ended up being my favorite record to come out that year. Now, after a couple of years of silence, Woe is back with a slightly revamped lineup that includes Krallice’s Lev Weinstein on drums and a new album called Hope Attrition, and they haven’t missed a beat. This record is an absolute fucking beast.

Hope Attrition doesn’t depart much from the formula they perfected on Withdrawal, but there are some subtle changes that add a new depth and shades to the music. Things kick off in strong fashion with “Unending Call of Woe,” a slow building track full of shifting dynamics that features some nicely restrained tom work by Weinstein in the intro section. The exhilarating “The Din of The Mourning” features multiple layers of tremolo-picked melodic guitar playing a progression that almost sounds classically influenced. Album highlight “The Ones We Lost” is another slow burner, with a moody opening section that eventually transitions into some ferocious tremolo chords and blasting, which eventually yields to a section of almost Maiden-esque twin guitar harmonies. The middle section of closer “Abject in Defeat” might have the best riff on the album—a slinky minor chord progression that rides a half-time drumbeat—and it includes a rare extended guitar solo in the middle of the cacophony.

On the whole, Hope Attrition is a more dynamic effort than their last record, with more complex song structures – there are a lot more riffs on this record, and more shifts in tempo. As a result, it’s slightly more contemplative and a bit less visceral, and it might take a couple of listens to fully sink in. If you liked Withdrawal, it’s definitely worth the patience – it’s not quite as immediately engaging as its predecessor, but it just might be a stronger album overall.

Hope Attrition will be available on March 17 in a variety of formats via Vendetta Records.

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