Album Review: Woe of Tyrants - 'Threnody'

23 April 2010 | 9:35 pm | Staff Writer

Sure to be one of 2010’s most surprising metal releases

Appearances can certainly be deceiving. For all intents and purposes, Ohio’s Woe of Tyrants look like they’ve jumped right out of the deathcore stereotype catalogue.

Within the genre that for a lack of a better word they inhabit, very few utterances are made, asserting Woe of Tyrants as one of the more impressive musical acts. Similarly, when you are on a label that boasts the likes of Cannibal Corpse, Unearth, Job for a Cowboy and co, one could argue Woe of Tyrants are the proverbial ‘interns’ of an impressive Metal Blade roster. However, like all-important things in life, you have to start from the bottom and work your way up.

Consequently, this ‘bottom of the competitive chain’ notion inevitably breeds three important qualities: ambition, drive and resolve – each of which Woe of Tyrants use to their advantage on ‘Threnody’. Sophomore release on Metal Blade, the progression from last year’s ‘Kingdom of Might’ is markedly distinct on ‘Threnody’.

Add a predominant death metal acumen, mix it with a very subtle ‘core’ element, and throw in a swagger of power metal sweeping riffs for good measure and we have an initial basis to start analysing the Woe of Tyrants sound.

Two songs seemingly bookend this release, highlighting the contrasting range the US quintet choose to employ. Early track ‘Venom Eye’ echoes Bay Area thrash with its driving power metal riffs and well-placed double kick work. While conversely, penultimate tune ‘Singing Surrender’ introduces a haunting keys section to deliver a solid dose of European-inspired death metal – the instrumental introduction enough to captivate you. Concurrently, ‘Creatures of the Mire’ and ‘Tempting the Wretch’ are your straightforward heavy hitters.

Fans that laid claim to this band well before ‘Threnody’ will feel justified for their continued support, while followers of heavy music looking for a new band to bang their head to may look no further. Surprising, unexpected, unforeseen – ‘Threnody’ delivers on all counts. In the words of Larry David, this album is ‘pretty, pretty, pretty good’.

There is an inherent charm in discovering an album that conventional wisdom suggests should be generic yet turns out to be the direct opposite. ‘Threnody’ is by no means a masterpiece but is almost the antithesis of all things derivative, nonspecific, and boring in heavy music today.

1. Tetelestai

2. Creatures of the Mire

3. Venom Eye

4. Tempting the Wretch

5. Threnody

6. Bloodsmear

7. The Venus Orbit

8. Lightning Over Atlantis

9. Singing Surrender

10. Descendit Ad Inferos (The Harrowing of Hell)