Wo Fat - The Conjuring - (9/10)
Published on June 11, 2014
Continuing to usher forth their Wendigo spirit, Dallas’ Wo Fat have returned with their fifth full-length album, The Conjuring, another stoner psych-doom excursion into places unknown, deadly, and dense with an oft-misunderstood species known as the killer blues.
Recorded at guitarist-lead vocalist Kent Stump’s Crystal Clear Sound, the album follows the Wo Fat template of towering doom riffs stirred with the devil-may-care nonchalance of southern blues and classic hard rock fuzz. Similar to their past two efforts, 2011’s Noche del Chupcacabra and 2012’s The Black Code, The Conjuring wields a five-song set of grooving mythically charged stoner rock. While not metal in the strictest sense, Wo Fat’s infatuation for seductive down-tuned riffs, in addition to the sheer sonic weight delivered, makes them a favorite amongst stoner-doom thrill-seekers, and for good reason. The band have yet to lay an egg. In fact, since Stump’s vastly improved vocals on 2009’s Psychedelonaut, the Texas trio have been on fire, and rest assured, The Conjuring hears the boys sizzling from afar with their unmistakable fuzz-realm flair.
Wo Fat, as they do like few others, jam about in a style that’s as much jazz and blues-trio influenced as it is about swirling up stoned-out southern metal dust. With Tim Wilson building and leveling grooves off with his rumbling bass lines, Michael Walter swinging hard and smooth and setting the standard for his boys to follow, and Stump just burning away with his ever-enhancing, always-entrancing solo work – Stump flat-out struts on the closer “Dreamwalker” – Wo Fat have turned The Conjuring into a record that has little to do at all with being recorded. The music is alive with flame and smoke and things that only come out at night.
While the track listing is at a minimum on The Conjuring, the five captured are beasts, each memorable and hardy pieces with mystically themed song titles reminiscent of heavy metal greats Manilla Road; a reality further bolstered by the prolific Alexander von Wieding’s cover artwork; a man who, like Wo Fat, bridges the realms of art and dark fantasy with guile. Of course, Wo Fat are in the business of music, and they scarcely underwhelm, employing driving and bubbling riffs to hypnotic and bluesy effect. The songs, for the most part, do things similarly, but the nuances between a track like the patient assassin “Pale Rider from the Ice” and the infectiously head-bobbing “Beggar’s Bargain” are more than abundantly clear when Stump’s lyrics, solos, and those damned riffs begin to bore deep into your head.
With the hot summer months on the near horizon, Wo Fat’s latest couldn’t have landed at a better time. The Conjuring is the trio at their most confident and awe-inducing, doling out heaviness like heavy ain’t no thing. So be careful jamming this album beside a bonfire. There’s no telling what may come crawling out of the cinders.