It is something of a crime that two decades into their career, the Texan doom laden stoner rock of Wo Fat is still spoken of by connoisseurs with a cult like fervour, rather than preached from the mountain tops with the wide spread recognition that their critically acclimated output deserves. Since their first full length, The Gathering Dark, way back in 2006, they have dragged their audience through primordial heaviness and hypnotic seventies laced grooves that have assaulted the listener with mammoth riffs. Steeped in blues rich heritage and fuzzed-out bliss, the band have seemingly channelled dark forces which have propelled them to festivals all over the world, a home at Ripple Music as well as more than a few top ten list spots.
Walking the line between psychedelic tripped out space rock and doom angst, Wo Fat have always balanced their muscular brand of swampadelic noise of big, er, fat riffs with medley and a deftness of songwriting that makes them such a damn treat, and over the course of six albums, they have refined this into increasingly challenging musical explorations that can excite and soothe in equal measure.
Now after a gap of some six years, the band return with a refined and progressive blend of all aspects of their sonic palette that they use to weave tales of the encroaching apocalypse, encompassing the technological and environmental disasters that humanity seems to be driving inexorably towards with seeming abandon. This lofty premise can be applied through metaphor as the battle for the soul in the face of social and planetary decay.
The good news for those who just want to rock out is that these themes come wrapped up in some serious kick ass music.
Orphans Of The Singe, the near fourteen-minute opening track starts with an almost Eastern flavoured creeping intro, evoking a mysticism and otherworldly atmosphere as it builds into the hypnotic tom-tom rhythm that heralds the lumbering Southern guitar scything into your consciousness.
Pausing just long enough to highlight Zack Busby’s rich and funky bass work, the band finally crash in with a swaying groove as Kent Stump barks and croons their first tale of impending doom. Mantra like and on the edge of worry, the music is warm around the multi-layered melodies. Catchy and haunting all at the same time, this towering opening gives way to the trippier, slower, and heavy second half which features some fabulous lead work.
The Snows Of Banquo IV juxtaposes with this atmosphere and is built around the pounding drums and rumbling bass. From here it is a journey of driving riffs and a classic stoner gallop before settling down into a huge stomp with tales of pandemic fear, floods, and other modern connections delivered in a pulsing, hammering beat.
this operatic, smoke-filled journey flows so naturally that it feels effortless…
Overworlder continues this robust turn and is drenched in retro vibes like the band were practicing in a sea of lava lamps when they composed the track. Delivering another funky chorus and top-notch solo, this is yet another moment where the band bust the ten-minute mark, but it sails past in an absorbing blink of the eye, belying the fact that nothing remotely dips much below eight minutes in this seven track opus. If there is one thing that Wo Fat show on The Singularity, it’s that they’ve become engaging, consummate songwriters, and the wait has been worth it.
Individual moments of brilliance can be mined from each offering as the big chorus and manic guitar work on The Unravelling shows; dancing manically in celebration as Michael Walter not only pummels the kit into the ground with tribal like rhythm but also provides the harmonious backing vocals on the big shimmering chorus.
The Witching Chamber brings things down into a moody, head nodding noodling where the band get their finest stoner and psyche jam on. Typically thick, heavy, and plodding it still features an earworm multi-vocal chorus that will stick in your brain before the title track barrels through with tough sounding chugging as Wo Fat flex their power once again.
Closing with The Oracle, the band go full blown space rock odyssey with the epic length sixteen minute plus instrumental. Possibly the highlight on an album already chock full of highlights, this operatic, smoke-filled journey flows so naturally that it feels effortless, showcasing the shrewd chemistry and musicianship present within the band. Moving back and forth from deep redneck grooves to swaying and hypnotic, blissed out moments, the sign off feels like a release in itself and simultaneously encapsulates the entire vibe of the album.
Recorded, mixed, and mastered in house by Stump himself, as ever The Singularity feels like a labour of love from start to finish. Deliciously murky and low end heavy at times, the cleaner aspects are not sacrificed to create that voodoo, swamp like vibe that has permeated their back catalogue. Wo Fat have delivered some stellar albums over the course of their career, and whilst it might be the rush of having them back after what feels like six very long years, The Singularity might just be their crowning glory to date.
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden