WIDE RWAKE – Voices of Omens Announces the Arrival of Prog Metal’s Most Evil Band

  • Axl Rosenberg

rwake.jpgFew bands arrive on the scene with critics firmly behind them as Rwake have, and in the lastest issue of Decibel magazine vocalist Chris Terry seems to have no trouble feeding the hype while he discusses how evil his band strives to be. Whether or not you think Rwake live up to the reputation that preceeds them, there’s no doubting that Voices of Omens, though not the Rwake’s debut, will certainly be their breakthrough album. Muddy, searing, creative, and vicious, this is take-no-prisoners Southern prog-metal for all the kids who still think Remission is Mastodon’s best album.

That’s not to say that anything here suggests that Rwake are as accomplished as musicians as Mastodon’s members are; they’re clearly no slouches, but there’s no single solo or drum fill that will make your jaw drop to the ground.

But that doesn’t mean that these dudes don’t have their shit together. The highest compliment I can give Rwake is that they’re clearly smart enough to understand the conventions of modern metal, but inventive enough to find ways to play with them so that old tricks seem new again. It seems like every band these days, for example, is opening their album with a gentle, Master of Puppets-like acoustic intro; well, Rwake are no different, except that they embrace their Arkansas roots and play their intro on the banjo- which, believe it or not, turns out to be pretty awesome (and Arcade Fire fans think metalheads are close minded! P’shaw!).

It only gets better from there. “The Finality” spirals in and out of control as Terry screams about “the great finality of it all” over ambient white noise, like King Lear howling into the wind; “Fire and Flight” sways effortlessly between meditative, dreamy sections and Satanic screeching (“Six six six!”) so raw it’ll tear your face clean off; “Leviticus” is technical enough for the math-metal dweebs, brutal enough for grindcore punks, sludgy enough for Crowbar kids. Only two songs- the intro and the appropriately named “Bridge”- are under six minutes, but the album only occasionally feels repetitive; there’s enough flavoring here to warrant multiple spins as you search through the aural maze the band has provided the listener.

I don’t know that there’s anything groundbreaking here; Mastodon may have gotten more melodic, but as the clear model for a band like Rwake, there’s no denying their songcraft is just plain superior. But as an OMEN (RIMSHOT!) of things to come, Rwake have provided one of the strongest offerings of the new year thus far.

(four out of five horns)


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