Wake Up on Fire: Wake Up on Fire
This cello-powered doom-punk septet makes a seriously grueling ruckus that’s more inviting than it has any right to be, making its recent extended hiatus announcement disconcerting. These tracks contain nary an understandable vocal—everything comes from an inner-demon growl that sounds like marbles in a meat grinder. And even if you could make them out, what you’d hear is anti-American capitalism screed that weed-grows in the minds of idealistic youth. “Dust” takes aim at, and squarely hits, the sort of fat-cat businessmen characters found in Sergei Eisenstein films: “rescue your investments before they slip away/ take another sip/ wipe your disgusting lips/ then on with your day.” “Green Mouth” shakes fists at office drones: “the rectangular male perpetuates sustained envy/ every weave of passion funneled into him.”
Cheering things up is WUOF’s other vibe: Céline spelunking the absolute worst aspects of human existence. Lyrically, both “Will to Be Hollow” (“the look in your eyes of metal recently filed”) and “Holes” (“Everything in your life is shattered/ and the shards forced back inside”) would send you reaching for the cyanide, did the band not exquisitely complement this bile with some thoroughly menacing moods. At full-tilt fright—“Dust,” “Holes”—the drummer and percussionist lay down an overlapping pound that steamrolls into death-metal-dense bass and guitar. When the band slows things down, though, it’s positively sphincter-tightening. “Will to Be Hollow” suffers at a dying snail’s pace, and its version of the hardcore riff bridge arrives like a sucker-punch to the gut. “Green Mouth” comes to life on a tribal percussion rally that can’t be summoning anything unevil. And the cello-outlined “4 White Walls” is a monster unto itself. A funereal orchestration of guitar, bass, strings, drums, and chants that seamlessly evolves into the sound of civilization’s noisy discontent, it ends in a blood-boiling barrage of noise as cathartic fear, the sort of primal soundscape scene that hints at what some people have been waiting for Godspeed You! Black Emperor to do ever since side two of Slow Riot for a New Zero Kanada: extreme volume as extreme political dissidence. Wake Up on Fire hasn’t achieved that yet, but good golly Jacques Attali, it may very well be on its way.