Band: Age of Woe
Label: Lifeforce Records
Genre: Doom/Death Metal
Release Date: February 26th, 2021
For Fans Of: Martyrdöd, Lik, Disfear, Ancst, Rotten Sound
It’s a new age for Age of Woe.
Not just a new age of pandemic and isolation, though it certainly is that, too. More notably, Envenom, the third full-length release from deathy, doomy, blackened punk tormentors Age of Woe, reveals a new age of evolution for the Gothenburg quintet. A new age of, to use their words, “insanity reborn.”
The first sign of this evolution is the vocal performance. Where the vocals on releases like Inhumanform, though brutal and bitter, could feel like they were shouted from another room, Envenom’s opening track “Inferno” erupts with a stampede of layered vocals mixed front and center. Perhaps it’s the addition of Rotten Sound’s Keijo Niinimaa to the lineup. Maybe vocalist Sonny Stark has relaxed into his false cord technique. Whatever the case, the multi-tracked vocals create a ferocious chorus of voices that cries out in communal agony. When we listen, we are all Age of Woe, together spitting our venom at the pain and alienation of these unforgiving times.
The second evolution is the songwriting itself. Beneath the sonic slag and sludge we’ve come to expect from Age of Woe, Envenom conceals pop sensibilities. Listen as the pre-chorus of the trudging first single “A Feral Swarm” compresses the song’s tension to critical mass before exploding into a hook so big that the entire album hangs from it. It demands that we shout out and sing along, even if we don’t know the words. Don’t worry; Envenom is still delightfully repulsive. Tracks like “A Feral Swarm,” “Envenom,” and “Ljungeld” drag their tempos to plodding apathy, as if to mock the meaningless of time itself in a year of endless, secluded lockdowns.
As Age of Woe continues to evolve on future releases, Envenom has some disadvantageous genes worth weeding out. Instrumental interludes like “Förpestningten” and “Avgenden” are welcome breaths of fresh air between the album’s unrelenting assaults, but they feel like unfinished thoughts compared to thorough, haunting statements like the instrumental “Kine Weza Kuruf Konkey” on 2016’s An Ill Wind Blowing. Future mutations would also benefit from more of the delightfully disorienting, single-note guitar melodies found on songs like “Storm.” These jagged mini-solos cut straight through the mix and into our skulls, and each one is over too soon.
More vile than LIK, more massive than Centinex, Age of Woe’s trampling blackened death punk emerges bigger, better, and more developed than ever on Envenom. If the pandemic has you lonely, afraid, or just plain pissed, don’t go it alone. Join the “feral swarm” and listen to Envenom now.
- Ghosts Who Hunt Alone
- A Feral Swarm
- The Twilight and the Dawn
Total Playing Time: 40:45
Chaz lives in Osaka, Japan where he designs theme park rides, powerlifts, and listens to heavy f%cking metal.