Woe Unto Me - _A Step Into the Waters of Forgetfulness_
(Solitude Productions, 2014)
by: Chaim Drishner (7.5 out of 10)
Nowadays, your music should be super duper interesting and inventive in order to break -- or even just to manage crack, or even scratch -- the glass ceiling of indifference governing this age and era. Everything has been invented, everything tried, and today more than ever we see the advent of experimentalism not in the sense of re-inventing the wheel and offering something exquisitely different than the norm, but rather in the sense of taking several existing, established genres / styles / aesthetics that are fundamentally foreign to each other and trying to fuse them into a single musical entity. A band's music must be noticed, remembered, memorized -- otherwise it is doomed to the annals of forgetfulness. Necessity being the mother of invention, hence this is virtually the only way to go in order to be heralded in this desensitized world of ours.

We've seen black metal trying to squeeze into the doom rubric; we've seen death metal trying to reconcile with gothic; and we've seen the very curious amalgamation in the process of evolving, namely funeral doom and epic / traditional doom, trying to live side by side in harmony.

Funeral (the band) probably started this trend; later came HellLight, and now Woe Unto Me board that ship with utter ease. We may have missed a lot of quality bands, but these three strike as the most immediate, prominent representatives of that new-ish style, an aural dialect conceived in the darkest corners of the genre, where it has been residing ever since. And despite the fact _A Step Into the Waters of Forgetfulness_ is a mere debut release, listening to it is by no means a step into the waters of forgetfulness, but rather the contrary: a recording you will remember for quite some time, by a band making their first yet impressive appearance on the stage where the 'big boys' play.

It's difficult enough to excel in one given musical style, let alone in a couple, simultaneously. That's probably why there are so few really good funeral doom / epic metal combos out there anyone has ever heard of. Woe Unto Me are an exception to that unwritten rule, as they handle quite impressively both styles with equal prowess.

Belarusian Woe Unto Me deserve to be heard, as their doom aesthetic is an interesting one, in addition to being a double-headed style the band execute well; both the 'classic' funeral doom / death metal edge and the intriguing hermetic epic metal seed planted in those infertile, barren soils, now blooming with gorgeous somber colors, have been well articulated and perfected as this double-headed beast -- chop one head, and the beast will cease to exist, having only that one remaining head attached to a dying, wriggling body.

With all due respect to the part the guitars and drum work play however, and to the role of the intelligently crafted songs and the impact of the crisp production, what separates Woe Unto Me from other bands is their brilliant vocal arrangements. The band use three different singing styles executed by three different band members: there are the hellish growls, then there are the female vocals and then comes the most quintessential vocal type within that unholy trinity, the masculine tenor / baritone courtesy of one Mr. Sergey Puchok -- to whom, interestingly enough, this is a full-time job on the recording, that is to say he only sings here and handles no additional instrument but the tool box of his vocal chords. That box is brimming with crystal-clear, passionate, soaring and melancholic vocals like you wouldn't believe, that are capable of sounding dramatic without being over melodramatic.

These phenomenal vocals tie the album together and add the singularity factor the album needed, without which _A Step Into the Waters of Forgetfulness_ would have only remained within the decent-but-not-outstanding niche, one overcrowded with similar musical entities that failed at transcending their doom above the mundane.

The music's brooding, contemplative essence is all over the place. The funeral doom moments are well crafted yet basic, mostly melodic and ethereal; enter the alternating clear male and female vocals, and the music becomes a dark, lamenting, towering beast that pummels the listener into a pulp of oozing emotions with its sad lullabies and heart-tearing epic tales of endless sorrow. The neoclassical innuendos, made flesh by the wise usage of the keyboards, enhance the sentiment of melancholy and paint the recording with gothic undertones of macabre vistas.

_A Step Into the Waters of Forgetfulness_ is a good album in every aspect, speaking in a unique, slightly grotesque but ever so fluent tongue that has been gently constructed and perfected for the aim of providing maximum pain alongside solace, without re-inventing the wheel but rather the contrary: doing so by using, exploiting, harnessing the already established elements of the aforementioned schools of metal music, binding them wisely together, chewing on them and then spitting them out as an indivisible unit of gloom, callous despair and endless somber beauty.

Contact: http://woeuntome.bandcamp.com

(article published 30/5/2014)

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