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Woccon : Solace In Decay


Woccon's debut full-length should find acclaim as an accomplished, satisfying album.



The cover art and title of Woccon's debut album, 'Solace In Decay', had me expecting something along the lines of Swallow the Sun, and I was not surprised. This Georgia, USA band follows up 2013's long EP with a full-length round of northern-European-style melodic dark metal that purports to be doom but is really a sadder derivative of bands like Insomnium and Dark Tranquillity.

Is that a bad thing? Well, if you're a fan of the above bands, 'Solace In Decay' will scratch a similar itch. Woccon have put together a beautiful and listener-friendly album loosely in the tradition dating back to Amorphis and Sentenced, with a contemporary mindset. While still a few stages below the quality level of the elder bands' best output, Woccon manage to acquit themselves well among the present crop of bands taking their cue from Swallow the Sun and Daylight Dies by taking melodeath into decidedly more melancholy territory.

From the get-go, the 'Intro' track (by Barre Gambling of Daylight Dies) suggests that this will be a guitar enthusiast's delight. While some piano is present, synths and strings are not a big part of Woccon's sound, so the standard instrument array fills the available space with relentless activity: the guitars are always in lead mode, riding waves of black metal tremolo lines, trading short melodic statements, or strumming in high registers. The constant intertwining sacrifices some heaviness in the total result. As one moves into the album proper, things level out somewhat, but there's a flowingness, a sense of flying over hills and valleys, that nicely brings to life the panoramic landscape from the cover. It's a veritable feast for the ears at every second as drums provide accent and punctuation that's beyond average as are tempos on this album, which are too fast by half for anyone wanting something truly low and slow. Distinctive moments are found in 'Giving Up the Ghost' during several passages of furious drum blasting while guitars swim gently overhead, an effective device in a song that also shows dynamic contrast with its quiet interludes. Later on, 'Behind the Clouds' makes good use of piano but gets a little too bouncy, while album closer 'Wanderings' sums up the album's good qualities in a grandiose nine-minute epic.

The spotlight is so concentrated on guitar that Tim Rowland's vocals are rendered practically unnecessary this album would be about as interesting without them, and while his growls are certainly adequate, they might benefit from a bit more lung power. The result, by design or accident, is that the emotional heft is driven by guitar melodies exclusively. Close your eyes and let yourself be moved by the main themes in 'Give Up the Ghost' and 'Valadilene': the word "Solace" in the title is key, as there is a sense of searching for and even finding solace and acceptance after sorrow, a feeling that will be familiar to listeners of Swallow the Sun or Antestor.

'Solace In Decay' presents all this in a rather immediate, instantly accessible way. No change of direction is evident from the previous EP; this album is a slightly tweaked (no more female vocals; increased emphasis on lead guitar) take on the established formula, which the band seem satisfied with. The surface-level hooks will attract fans who devour the sorrowful branch of melodeath, while Doom/Death fans used to bands like early Paradise Lost, Derketa, or Officium Triste might find Woccon a little too easy. Nevertheless, Woccon obviously know what audience they aim for, and should find deserved acclaim there with this accomplished, satisfying album.


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Reviewer's rating: 7/10

Information

Tracklist :
1. Intro
2. Giving Up The Ghost
3. Atrophy
4. This Frozen Soil
5. And The World Wept
6. Impermanence
7. Valadilene
8. An Enduring Remorse
9. Behind The Clouds
10. Wherever I May Be
11. Wandering

Duration : Approx. 57 minutes

Visit the Woccon bandpage.

Reviewed on 2014-11-06 by Mark Rzeszutek
ForeverAutumnHowls
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