The word “thick” in the English language has a few uses. It can mean stupid, it can mean something that has great physical depth yet in the case of this new album from Texan groove masters it is a suitable adjective to describe their entire sound. This is one mighty tasty slab of beef that makes the densest molasses seem as thin as badger’s piss!!!
Wo Fat consist of only three people; guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump, bassist Tim Wilson and drummer Michael Walter, and for three people they create a huge sound that mixes elements of swampy blues, stoner rock and dirty doom. We all know that Texans like things bigger and better than everyone else and that frame of mind applies here in spades. The five songs here, yes only five songs, each stretch their wings in several directions and take their own sweet time to reach a conclusion.
The opening track “Lost Highway” is practically radio friendly at around five and a half minutes whereas the title track spans over ten minutes and in its first 3 minutes grinds through doom, stoner to something that resembles borderline trad metal. From there things just continue to grow, build, grind and groove and not to mention rock out in no uncertain terms. Usually I’m not a big fan of longer songs but Wo Fat never let the grass grow under their feet, never let a riff outstay its welcome and keeping the momentum up at all times. In effect, the song writing is very natural and organic, the songs are as long as they need to be and reach a conclusion when they’ve run their course, be it five minutes or fifteen!!!
Highlight track would have to be “Hurt At Gone” with its slide guitar and crazy Voodoo rhythms. This is how Dr John would have sounded had he been a member of Black Sabbath in 1970. The track ebbs and flows yet builds to a monstrous finale that threatens to implode but the skill of the band is knowing just when to pull things back into line. By contrast the twelve minute plus “The Shard Of Leng” comes across like a steroid driven Pink Floyd riding on a sweet and lazy groove with Stump’s spacious and spatial guitar taking centre stage. We don’t get a sniff of a riff until nearly six minutes in at which point the band really kick into gear, chopping and changing the vibe and the groove keeping the listeners delicately poised on the tips of their toes. The motto here seems to be “expect the unexpected, so when the unexpected comes you’ll be expecting it!” The band appears to share an almost telepathic bond as the songs flow effortlessly and seamlessly from riff to riff but with the vibe of a band jamming through ideas as they hit.
It’s easy to see why so many stoner and doom fans have been frothing at the mouth about Wo Fat and this album in particular. The band takes the formula of these genres and flips them into something more organic and free flowing to create something unfettered by clichés that’s primal, heartfelt and downright effective. Another nugget of pure gold from Small Stone, it’s getting to be a habit!
Scribed by: Ollie Stygall