[2 June 2010]
Genre fusion is often very difficult in metal, even for veteran acts. Finding the proper balance between two styles and creating a unique sound from that balance requires finesse, subtlety, and a great deal of songwriting talent. Luckily for Ohio-based quintet Woe of Tyrants, they have those three qualities in abundance. More importantly, they have the ambition to attempt a triple fusion of death metal, thrash, and metalcore into one bone-crushing sound. Their first album for Metal Blade (second overall), Kingdom of Might, was a massive success that earned the band touring slots with Unearth, God Dethroned, Psyopus, and their current spot on Overkill’s 25th anniversary tour. On their newest album, Threnody, the young band replicates their older success while adding new, exciting elements to their unique sound.
Many may write this album off as a bland deathcore record upon hearing the notes of opening instrumental “Tetelestai”, but nothing could be further from the truth. Woe of Tyrants actually has more in common with Testament than they do with Suicide Silence. The number of real breakdowns on this album can be counted on one hand, while the number of highly technical guitar solos and leads is much greater. Dustie Waring of Between the Buried and Me makes a guest appearance on the track “Venom Eye”, playing one of the more complicated guitar solos on the album and making it look easy. Vocalist Chris Catanzaro delivers a ferocious performance with unparalleled depth and intensity, while also crafting intelligent lyrics about mental growth and spirituality. As with Kingdom of Might, though, Johnny Roberts steals the show on drums, channeling Mike Smith of Suffocation and Dave Lombardo of Slayer into a tight, gripping drum opus that directs the album’s flow and holds together songs through numerous tempo changes and time adjustments.
What sets Threnody apart from its predecessor is the addition of symphonic sections throughout the album. While the band does not have an actual keyboardist in their ranks, the use of symphonic parts is a stroke of genius, adding layers of harmony and atmosphere to an already-unique musical experience. Most of the symphonic elements appear on the second half of the album, enhancing tracks like “Bloodsmear” and “Singing Surrender” for the short sections in which they appear. However, the best use of symphonic parts occurs on the title track, which is also the greatest song on the album. This song is longer than any other Woe of Tyrants song, thanks to its soft intro that builds right into a complex guitar lead backed by a towering symphonic section. The whole song constantly builds towards the final guitar solo, and the symphonic parts aid in this rising sensation, breathing life and depth into the song. The entire song is quite memorable, ranking among the best compositions of the band’s career.
Threnody is proof that Woe of Tyrants has staying power beyond just two albums. This record has a lot to offer for fans across multiple genres. Combining the speed of thrash, the technicality of death metal, and the potency of metalcore, Threnody is one of the rare complete packages in modern metal. The cross-genre appeal of this album is sure to push Woe of Tyrants into the spotlight and give them further well-earned recognition.