To Wo Fat, Thanks For Everything! The Conjuring
Allow me to relay the circumstances under which I first heard Wo Fat’s The Conjuring: it was a Sunday. It was as hot and fucking humid as an elk’s taint. I was wearing whatever remains of the Dillinger Escape Plan shirt I bought on their first tour with Greg Puciato; pants were not involved. I had three fans going in my apartment. I had an intensely-sweating glass of Boulevard Brewing’s 80-Acre Ale and a mostly-cashed bowl of… well, something excellent. I had the Red Sox/Tigers game on mute; it’d wind up being the first win they’d have in a week (they’re a streaky team, not a shitty team, dammit!) It was over all of this that I’d chosen to drape the hazy, riff-heavy perma-fuzz of The Conjuring. There might be no better opportunity to hear this band. I loathe humidity—and, after the series’ first two games, the Tigers—but I managed to love everything with Wo Fat as my guide.
This isn’t to say the band are innovative. Hell, they’re not even throwing a new spin on something that hasn’t been touched. But they nail the shit out of doomy stoner rock. They’re the intersection of Kyuss’ anthemic Sky Valley-era stuff, Clutch’s doom rock boogie, Electric Wizard’s Sabbath-on-cough-syrup apocalyptic mist, and, duh, Sabbath itself. And though a billion—yes, billion—bands have done that, Wo Fat do it perfectly. The Conjuring is a hell of an album: excellently sequenced, varied enough to not induce boredom while not risking stylistic whiplash, and all the songs are fucking great. While (obviously) I enjoy doom that drags you across the coals to make you a better/different person (a la Neurosis, Eyehategod, Lord Mantis, etc.), there’s something to be said for just making some kick-ass stoner rock. Wo Fat sound like they could do that in the middle of Matrix and Star Wars marathons on some holiday weekend.
The most impressive thing about it, though, is how thoroughly jammy The Conjuring is. The band’s power lies in how loose they feel; they don’t rely on theatrics or clever bridges but instead sound confident swinging a bluesy sledgehammer of a riff right into a free-burning solo. This is best illustrated on 17-minute closer “Dreamwalker,” which is one of the best arguments you’re gonna find for journey-not-the-destination songwriting for a while. The Conjuring’s well-integrated spontaneity serves it well, from the rock and roll jamming in “Read the Omens” to “Beggar’s Bargain”’s dynamic buildup seguing into an odd-time signature doom riff to “Pale Rider from the Ice” opening with only a bass solo and vocalist Kent Stump being present. Like the best mega-budget movies in the season for which their music is best suited, The Conjuring is both instantly gratifying and well-crafted. The thoroughly black metal winter we had is going to be followed by a balls-hot summer. But as much as it’ll suck being the perpetually sweaty guy, I’m sure Wo Fat will have us covered.