Tuesday, October 15, 2013

WoodWall - WoodEmpire

I've been terrible about reviewing new albums this year. Something like 50 or 60 bands and promoters have sent me new music to review, which admittedly is far less material than many metal bloggers receive, but it's still enough to make me feel bad about the fact that I've barely touched any of it. Well, I have decided to try a little harder for the rest of the year to cover at least some of the records piling up in my inbox, and I'm starting tonight with a group who contacted me a couple weeks ago.

WoodWall are an Italian band who released their debut album WoodEmpire  last month. They play, as you've probably guessed just by looking at that sweet album artwork, a brand of psychedelic stoner metal.

My initial assumption was that this would be something of an Electric Wizard-esque stoner doom record, but it's quite a bit lighter than that. While definitely psychedelic, and still metal, this record comes with more of a Pink-Floyd-playing-blues-rock flavor to it than I'd anticipated. That works well, and it makes this extremely easy to get into for more casual listeners who may not be ready for thunderously heavy music. The guitar solos sound great and are played with restraint and an emphasis on flowing organically from the songs. The bass maintains a good groove, as it should in this type of metal, and I found myself focusing on it quite frequently as I listened. The drums fit well, but as is often true of groove-oriented metal, they don't really take the spotlight. In my opinion the vocals are the weakest facet of the album, though it's not to the point of being distracting or anything. They just aren't delivered with much power, which is exacerbated by the fact that the only real problem with the mix is that the vocals are a little too low. At its heart, though, this is a guitar record more than anything else. Guitar and bass are the real keys to most psychedelic/stoner music, inside metal and out, so that's not really a surprise.

I do have one other gripe, which that while there are some strong songs here, there are also a couple filler tracks. Now "a couple" doesn't sound too bad, until you realize that there are only six songs on this record. Those tracks aren't really even bad per se, but this would have been a stronger showing if it had been released as an EP without them.

Overall, this is a good record. I doubt it will go down as one of the best releases of the year, but it's groovy and enjoyable. As a debut, I think it shows a lot of promise. Once these guys refine their songwriting a little and bring out a full album of their best material, I can see myself really getting on board.

Grade: B

(You can find the full album on bandcamp here.)

No comments:

Post a Comment