(The Black Code)
Staff Rating: Crank this to 10 of 11
| Editor's Pick
Stoner rock, Sludge
Kyuss, Crowbar, Sleep
We have been listening to stoner sludge doom metal since the early days of The Melvins and Sleep. It’s been quite some time since an album this sonically masterful has caught our attention. Wo Fat, a three-piece band hailing from Texas, has conjured up a very special formula in their fourth release. A formula that features a myriad of complex deep droning tones and heavy cutting riffs. Five songs (three of which exceed 10 minutes) crafted to near perfection. What makes this album so special is the consistency and amazing texture.
You will hear powerful clean sound that carries full frontal adrenalin. Unlike other doom/sludge albums there are absolutely no lengthy space fillers or fluff. Rather, Wo Fat have put forth every ounce of creativity and energy into a testosterone filled magical work. The first track, "Lost Highway" wets our appetite with an initial lick laced with Brant Bjorkesque fine wine crystal clean guitar work. Then the Crowbar-like sincere gripping vocal style of Kent Stump grabs a hold of your distorted world. The lead track ebbs and flows into dripping sludge and superb change-ups.
The title track "The Black Code" follows with abrupt guitar tunes than crawls into an immense and grindingly slow, fuzzed out riff, reminiscent to Sleeps' "Dragonaut". The pace picks up and a solid thick groove takes form, so thick, you can cut it with a knife, as the vocals are perfectly timed and blend in naturally. This song could end at the 5:00 mark, but not on Wo Fats watch… it continues to navigate through bluesy, psychedelic compositions. "Hurt At Gone" begins with a slide guitar intro, all distorted and fuzzed out, steadily backed by an infectious drum rhythm along with the occasional cowbell. This blues driven song has a steady groove that never changes pace, it just feels so effortless. The album continues with the 12:36 minute "The Shard of Leng"; it’s an avalanche of impressive, rich sounding heavy vibes. We also find some spaced-out synth sounds being added here as it that just adds to the plethora of musicianship being put forth.
Closing the album is the ten minute-plus beast, "Sleep of the Black Lotus". As it starts gradually with intense feedback, all the while knowing it will break out at any moment. And yes, at the 1:43 mark, we hear the rhythm Wo Fat is known for take over. This song seems to have countless riffs and deep sound effects that will challenge any stereo system.
So, there you have it, The Black Code is a stoner rock album for the ages, it seems to get better with every listen as the musicianship and song structures are nearly flawless. Filled with exploration and lengthy jams and impressive vocals, it’s refreshing to hear a band come along and innovate a genre that can get stale.
Standout Tracks: None