Written by: The Administrator
Despite not having the largest back catalog or most widespread popularity, Wo Fat are one of those rare monolithic bands who deliver with such marked consistency that, as time goes on, their albums seem less like moments in a discography, and more like myths that comprise a greater lore. Their latest LP comprised of new material, 2016's Midnight Cometh, is no outlier. On this no-nonsense affirmation of their core aesthetic, swirling, psychedelic, and pseudo-hypnotic riffage paves the way through a chest-deep swampy ambiance.
When I think "stoner," this album rises as a prototypical paragon of the sound and the style. Maybe I'm jaded for thinking it is such a prime exemplar, but so be it. This album simply reeks of smoke. It perpetually sits behind a hazy veil. This is stoner music of the highest order, plain and simple.
And, while 2014's landmark The Conjuring is my personal favorite Wo Fat outing by benefit of being my first exposure, Midnight Cometh succeeds because it buckles down on what works in the formula. The fuzzed out pea-soup riffage is practically omnipresent, laying down the kind of mammothian head-bobbing groove that can't help by elicit some kind of physical reaction on the part of the listener. I mean, this thing is simply chock full o' riffs--every track manages to transition smoothly between a veritable horde of motifs. Notably, the grooviest riffs here are genuinely catchy as all hell--each track herein possesses some true earworms. The leads are sultry and psychedelic without losing that essential footing, lending the whole project a dynamic counterpart to the bituminous and bluesy low end. The drums are as thunderous as you might hope, and the little flashes of cowbell add the kind of self-aware flair that defined Bill Ward's most memorable moments. And the vocals, lest they be forgot, sit comfortably without detracting from the clear hero presented by the guitar. Kent Stump handles both duties, and does so with the laid-back swagger that any frontman of a stoner-oriented band can only aspire to. The vocal hooks here are quite catchy in their own right--try listening to the comparatively trim "Riffborn" without that damn chorus bubbling up through your subconscious for the rest of the day.
Individual components aside, Midnight Cometh's staying power comes from both its overall cohesion, and its ability to translate fairly subtle differences in style into highly impactful moments. "Le Dilemme de Detenu," for example, leans at times into a crunchier side of Stump's tone, resulting in a heightened sense of aggression that pairs nicely with the prior fluidity of standout "Of Smoke and Fog." The aforementioned "Riffborn" is a cut-n-dry rocker, with a whole lot of energy and very little time spent messing around. Individual track structure also presents opportunity for interest without needing to slam the point home through gimmicky means. Take opener "There's Something Sinister In The Wind," which abandons its hook-laden approach after the first half, falling into an immersive and urgent jam-esque session that manages to demonstrate each individual instrument at its peak of prowess. After the 48 minute runtime is over, one is left sufficiently suffonsified--nothing is overwhelmingly out of the box, but the album never hits a dull moment.
Look, if you aren't familiar with their sound, my words won't do it justice here--if you're a fan of the low n' slow, you owe it to yourself to give this beast a listen. This album represents a quiet confidence and maturity in Wo Fat's massive sound, and remains one of my all-time-favorite stoner rock (and Ripple Music) releases to date. Someday, I can only hope that Midnight Cometh will find status as a true classic of the scene.
Wo Fat - Midnight Cometh was released May 2016 via Ripple Music
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasant.