If you’re reading this, I am dead.
I’m just kidding, I just listened to Woe, Is Me‘s latest effort Genesi[s] (do I have to do that every time I type?). As you can tell, I am not a fan. But to keep my credibility, I’ll delve into this mess and show you what worked (not much) and what didn’t (too much). After which, I expect to be featured on Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe so be on the lookout for that.
Okay, okay, it’s time to get serious. Genesi[s], as everyone knows by now, features an almost completely new lineup of Woe, Is Me. There’s no use in blatantly comparing this release to Number[s], as they are very, very different. A potential positive in Genesi[s] though is the aggression (though still a double edged sword). It’s featured consistently throughout the album and works well to create a heavy aura. Accompanied with this is another perk that surfaces at multiple points – electronics. Though every modern metalcore band and their mother uses some form of synthesizing, there are neat moments of interesting special effects and sound bytes, such as hollow-ringing bells and full orchestral arrangements that are front and center. It’s engaging and breaks up the utter monotony of Genesi[s] (did I just say that out loud?).
Where to begin? For starters, the structuring seems to be switched up enough if you listened to one song out of context. But as a whole, the songs bleed hard into one another, due to the overly repetitious nature of the structure. And there is definitely more. Doriano Magliano’s mid range is grating to say the least, though his lows dominate the mix with power and are fun to hear at the (few) right moments. The most surprising disappointment is the use (or lack thereof) of Hance Alligood, who is equipped with a handsome set of pipes (seriously, just go listen to Oh, Manhattan’s Spiritual Warfare if you need proof). The problem is, he is rarely used and when he is, the melodic direction is awkward and makes little sense musically. In addition, it feels as if he is constantly forcing an angry inflection that becomes irritating, as his normal voice is smooth and forceful without a reliance on a crutch like grit or falsetto. Take, for instance, “Family First.” It’s polished, fluid, and showcases Alligood like no other track. Of course, it’s more of an acoustic track than that of a full band, but it’s pretty damn successful, so why not utilize what works most for you? I feel that there is too much misuse and misdirection of potential on Genesi[s] to not be upset by. There’s plenty of indication that Woe, Is Me know how to write something with depth, but it was decided that the pissed-off temper tantrums were more suited or were somehow better. What a shame.
I’m going to try and be as nice as I can. Playing the same note over and over is not making music. It’s making a tone. The only guitar work featured on the album is open note chugging, djent rhythms that require a quick tap of the third, fifth, seventh, or twelfth fret that jumps right back to its root open note. Oh, and power chords. Lots and lots of power chords. Spice it up? Make it interesting? Please? There is absolutely no branching out on Genesi[s], with one exception: ambience is replaced with frontal pop-punk instrumentation on every chorus. Does it help? Nope. A trademark of generic pop-punk is pseudo-nostalgia and catchiness, yet Woe, Is Me don’t even manage to do that. Transitions are almost non-existent and, when present, they make no sense in the context of the track as a whole. And let’s not forget the lyrics. Riddled with cliches, empty repetition, awful one-liners about one-liners, misogyny, homophobia, and vain cursing, it’s hard to stomach, let alone watch them flow through a screen as if they were good enough to put on display. Almost every song is about proving themselves to doubters, haters, and Issues, and that’s where I feel everything goes wrong.
In an attempt to show everyone up, Woe, Is Me fail utterly. Not a single delivery feels real or heartfelt. Rather, it’s all bark and no bite. If this is a genesis of a new band (as the concept behind the album title hints), I honestly hope they break this identity crisis and deliver a personal, meaningful record. If not, this deserves to be their last.
P.S.: And in case you’re inquiring about my stance on the Issues vs. Woe, Is Me war, I feel it’s irrelevant. If one record is “better” than the other, it doesn’t make that particular record any less awful than it already is. I don’t have a horse in this race, and if I did, the poor bastard would be dead.