Woe’s latest album Hope Attrition hits like a truck and is chock full of so many aggressive riffs you’ll wonder what the Hell has just happened.
Get ready to drown in blast beats and fiery rage. Get ready for Woe…
Introduce us to Woe
Black metal. Born in Jersey 10 years ago, Brooklyn since 2011. Riffs, usually around 165 bpm.
What are your influences?
Riffs around 165 bpm. Blast beats that you can still headbang to. Primitive vocals. Dawn/Drudkh/Ulver/Bolt Thrower.
Name five things you’ve listened to recently that you’d recommend
Woe – Hope Attrition
Woe – A Spell for the Death of Man
Dawn – Slaughtersun
Drudkh – Blood in Our Wells
Tell us about Hope Attrition
It’s an album that I wrote over the course of a year with a lot of feedback from my bandmates. It’s just over 43 minutes of raging riffs with one short acoustic passage so you can catch your breath before we come back around again for another bombing run.
How would you compare this latest release to your earlier work?
It’s probably the most narrowly scoped since A Spell for the Death of Man, in that the goal was 100% headbanging riffs. This was about 80% of the goal for the last two, with the other 20% being… “dynamic atmosphere,” I guess. As a fan, I realised that I want my metal aggressive; as a performer, I realised I want my metal aggressive; as a songwriter, I realised that I’m pretty flexible so I might as well focus on keeping Woe aggressive to satisfy the inner fan and live musician. So: Hope Attrition is a rager. Our sound is a lot more solidified, so it isn’t necessary to wear the Norwegian influence so obviously.
If you could do it all over again, what would be different?
I don’t really believe in thinking too much about stuff like this since there’s nothing to be done about it. Most of my early Woe regrets are centred around being immature, not knowing how to conduct myself, not knowing the best ways to set boundaries or deal with others or control my feelings. That’s part of being young, though, so I couldn’t have done anything differently, I just had to learn lessons. The best we can do is hope to learn from mistakes and be better when we have the opportunity.
How were the songs written?
I write riffs, arrange songs on my computer with programmed drums, send demos to Grzesiek and the other guys in the band, consider any feedback I’m given, and repeat until I feel like it’s done. Vocals are added when I’m ready. My schedule doesn’t allow me much time to noodle at guitar, so I’ll usually bank riffs in audio notes as they come to me and then try to work them out later. A lot of the best stuff is spontaneous and inspired by mistakes while trying to play something else.
What’s your favourite song on the album and why?
This is a very tough one, since I appreciate each for different reasons. Each was written with a particular goal in mind, a statement to be made or images to evoke or feeling to be presented, and I can’t say that any one does this better than another. In terms of sheer stupid riffs and ignorant vocals, “Drown Us With Greatness” wins. In terms of meaning and purpose, it’d be “The Ones We Lost.” In the category of “exhausting songs that don’t let the fuck up,” I couldn’t be happier with “No Blood Has Honor.” But these are pretty arbitrary distinctions, as qualities of each song can be found in the others if you know what to look for.
With a large gap between releases, what happened between these years and how did that inform Hope Attrition?
I needed a break to do life things, deal with some family and work stuff. It allowed me some space to think about what kind of band Woe should be, our strengths and weaknesses, and reevaluate why I was playing and what I hoped to get out of it. It let me come back with a clear head and picture of what this album would be. I’m glad for it.
What motivates you to continue to play black metal?
It is just in my bones at this point. I’ve tried to work with other genres and while I enjoy it, none of it has the visceral feeling that I get from black or death metal. I’d be writing this stuff even if nobody listened or cared.
Tell us about the cover artwork
As always, I sent Justin the album, lyrics, and some notes about it. He threw together some initial thoughts in an image and we zeroed in on a particular aspect of that: the smoke billowing into the air. We had to be careful with the approach or it could end up feeling very Earth Crisis, very Greenpeace. Ultimately, I can think of no way to more appropriately introduce the album.
With music becoming increasingly digital in nature, what’s your take on the digital/physical debate and the current state of the music industry?
It’s complicated. Digital music has democratized the industry and taken power away from people and organizations who would act as gatekeepers to art. We can share and explore in completely new ways, so I think that is excellent. On the other hand, the easy access to music and the increased churn rate of new releases is exhausting. I think many listeners fail to understand how much work can go into releasing an album and it can make it harder to really spend time and connect with an album. I sometimes wonder how many people miss out on meaningful connections with bands or albums simply because they were too quick to move onto the next thing. Ultimately, this is a very new way of consuming art and I think it will continue to evolve.
What’s it like working with Vendetta Records?
Fucking great. Stefan is just THE MAN. He is 100% committed to doing quality releases with quality bands. He wants our art to get to the ears of people who want to hear it. He wants us to succeed in whatever our definition of success is. We are partners on this one and he could not be more supportive.
Playing live: essential or pointless?
For bands in general, not my place to say, everyone should do what they want. For us, essential. Completely non-negotiable. Hope Attrition will be played in its entirety for some upcoming shows and it is the best possible way to hear the album. It hits harder, feels more aggressive and a bit more chaotic. As a fan, metal like this takes on a new life when it is experienced in person. The size of the sound is overwhelming, the force is transformative.
What are the next steps for Woe?
More of the same. Riffs at 165 bpm. Blast beats that you can still headbang to. D-beats. Primitive vocals.
Any final words?
Hope Attrition will be officially released on March 17. We have music at https://woeunholy.bandcamp.com. Follow us on Facebook for updates, https://www.facebook.com/woeunholy, check out our website (which will be updated soon) at http://www.woeunholy.com. We appreciate the support!