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Wolok : Fading Mirth & Dry Heaves

More Black than Doom, and imperfect yet oddly captivating: French band Wolok's latest release.

Wolok is a French band that I heard more about in Black Metal circles than anything so you can imagine my surprise when I received it to review for www.doom-metal.com!* I wasn't expecting a Doom release when I saw it, and so it proved to be, barring one part of the track 'Deceptive Serpents'.

* Editor's note:The band describe themselves as "Repugnant Black/Doom Metal", and much of the slow, dark, ominous atmosphere referred to below has doomy, if not outright Doom, elements. Obviously, there's always room for debate with genre boundaries, but I considered it enough to warrant accepting the album for review.

Essentially, what Wolok bring to the table is 'suicidal' Black Metal with tortured vocals, which is right up my street if it's done well. If that's not your thing then don't even consider listening to this album because you won't be able to stomach it for more than a minute or so, if that. I've always found Black Metal to be very black or white in that respect, particularly the darker areas of it.

The vocals from Lhükkmer'thz are typically strong, as they absolutely have to be in this sub-genre, given that they're the driving force accompanied by minimalistic music. Even performing a sub-genre of Black Metal though, this sounds like a very quirky release indeed. It's like the soundtrack to a budget horror movie at times, and I'm honestly not sure if that's a compliment or not! The pace of the album is predominantly quite slow, as you'd expect, but there are bursts of Black Metal toward the back end of the album too, making it even better suited as a soundtrack for a horror movie!

Perhaps the best way to describe what Wolok have produced on 'Fading Mirth & Dry Heaves' would be to imagine Ash from Nargaroth getting drunk and setting his keys to 'random' mode. In a weird way, it sort of works, which I am content in saying is largely because of the incredibly powerful and impressive vocals. Musically, it's a bit of a non-event, as you'd expect from this style. Still, I find myself captivated by it because of how ominous the atmosphere is and how dark it comes across as being.

And now for the big question - do I like it? You know, I've listened to it a few times now and I just can't make up my mind there. There are some elements that I really enjoy, including the spaced-out Ambient segments and the outstanding tortured vocals, not to mention the production, which suits both of the afore-mentioned down to the ground. I think the samples used are very effective at creating an evil musical portrait too, which is something I can't often say. However, the album is fairly repetitive, it's a bit zany, and I am not always convinced that there's much planning having gone into the tracks themselves so I'm on the fence really. At one stage, the keys even sounded akin to Supermario or something of that ilk, which just left me confused, particularly as that moment was mid-album and was nothing like anything else before it. 'Fading Mirth & Dry Heaves' is a musical adventure that each of you will have to make up your own minds for because I don't have enough to work with to either shepherd you all toward or away from it. The only real element that tips the scales on the review score - by plus or minus 1 - is whether I'm in the mood for this kind of music or not.

Again, this is not a Doom Metal release; it's Black Metal. Personally, despite its quirks, I enjoyed the musical journey that Wolok took me on with 'Fading Mirth & Dry Heaves', and this is a band I'll certainly be keeping an eye on in the future. It's far from perfect and yet oddly captivating material!

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Reviewer's rating: 7.5/10


Tracklist :
1. Stolid
2. Bitter Swill
3. Deceptive Serpents
4. Neural Misfire
5. Squalor

Duration : Approx. 39 minutes

Visit the Wolok bandpage.

Reviewed on 2020-03-01 by Ian Morrissey
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