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Review: Woe - A Spell for the Death of Man
A Spell for the Death of Man

Label: Stronghold Records
Year released: 2008
Duration: 43:15
Tracks: 7
Genre: Black Metal

Rating: 4.5/5

Review online: March 5, 2009
Reviewed by: Brett Buckle
Readers Rating
A Spell for the Death of Man

Rated 3.89/5 (77.78%) (9 Votes)

There comes a time (quite frequently I'd say) in a metalhead's life where he desires to have his face smashed in with an aural sledgehammer. If you are one of those metalheads who prefers that sledge to be made out of Black Metal then it is my distinct pleasure to recommend A Spell for the Death of Man by the one-man band known as Woe. The man behind the madness, going by the name of Xos, has delivered an album of utmost abrasiveness and crafted what very well may be the shape of USBM to come.

Album opener "Solitude" draws you in with some melancholic, mildly distorted strummed open chords similar in tone to Diadem of 12 Stars-era Wolves in the Throne Room, and then, after a good two minutes of this, the face smashing begins in earnest. A blistering riff forms the initial verse before thundering into some mid-paced golden era metal riffery, and continues in this vein, swapping between Anaal Nathrakh-like blasting and tremolo madness, and brute force Darkthrone or Dodsferd style black'n'roll. This is A Spell for the Death of Man in a nutshell – uncompromising, head-pummeling Black Metal that constantly switches it up between furious, full force Black Metal and rockin' riffs that will keep your head banging until your brain falls out. "Alone With Our Failures" continues the raging head bangery with an all out fist pumping verse riff and a remainder full of crushing, blast-laden bile. "I See No Civilization" ups the ante even further with more riffs designed to get your head banging in a fury and your mouth frothing with spite as Xos spews his vitriolic vocals over infectiously melodic tremolo riffs. The unbridled anger that seethes through the speakers is catching and it's damn hard to sit still while listening to this album – this is what you want to listen to just before you walk into your bosses office to quit in a spectacular orgy of bridge burning profanity and exaggerated arm waving. Album closer "Memento Mori" is the perfect coda as the voice of exhausted rage, the inevitable collapse after the fury of the preceding tracks, and while it is still as angry as a gang of drunken Scottish hornets, it is the rage of the physically spent. The production is caustic without being thin with the drums in particular sounding really live and raw as Xos does one hell of a job smashing the ever lovin' shit out them. The guitars are raw and dirty but not thin or distant and the bass is always there filling out the sound and rolling the album forward with the momentum of the bass drums pushing it along.

Frequently brutal and hatefully fast, but filled with melodic tremolo riffing and head banging riffs, A Spell for the Death of Man is an almost visionary treat. No, it's not genre-defining and nor is it particularly original but it has that magical musical ingredient in spades, and splices its influences together in an unusual way to create something just a little bit different. Woe have produced an album that can hold its head high in the company of albums like The Codex Necro or Blood Libels for sheer poisonous misanthropy and uncompromising brutality – for fans of extreme metal this is a no brainer.

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