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Voices of Omens

Rwake

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Album Review

With their sophomore release, If You Walk Before You Crawl, You Crawl Before You Die, Little Rock, AR's unpronounceable Rwake unexpectedly delivered one of 2004's best and most intriguing heavy metal records; taking the complexities inherent to contemporary prog-heads like Mastodon or Isis, plus Neurosis' affinity for disturbing spoken and musical samples, and contrasting them against doomy Southern sludge's gut-bucket brutality and primal instincts with improbable success. So much so that not even meager independent distribution and sporadic touring could prevent Rwake from graduating to a new label in metal powerhouse Relapse Records, for whom they recorded album number three, 2007's much anticipated Voices of Omens. Here, following an unexpectedly sweet and clean mandolin intro, the group wisely resumes all of their unique sonic contradictions, simultaneously fine-tuning their songwriting skills and ditching some of their more obvious Neurosis dependencies of yore while embarking upon ever longer compositions, like nine-minute epics "Finality," "The Grievous Abomination," and "The Lure of Light." Naysayers may correctly point out that these, along with additional, largely faultless creations such as the initially acoustic "Fire and Flight" and the spectacularly riffed "Inverted Overtures" offer pretty much the same sort of harsh dynamic shifts from light to dark as the bands cited above (plus other rising stars like Mouth of the Architect or Rosetta). But what truly separates Rwake from most all of their like-minded contemporaries, is their self-effacing obsession with trailer-trash culture (generally realized via amusing snatches of TV and movie dialog), and a unique talent for weaving positively sublime melodies into their otherwise punishing musical bulk — like gold stitching onto a two-ton rhino's pelt! That and the downright flashiest, shred-guitar solos to be found anywhere within their aesthetic milieu, which are delivered with unashamed heroics by the cryptically named Gravy (that's right, his handle is Gravy). In sum, Voices of Omens not only proves that Rwake's early promise was no flash-in-the-pan, but will hopefully also guarantee some measure of respect alongside their more notorious but hardly more talented peers — better album sales certainly wouldn't hurt, either.

Biography

Genre: Metal

Years Active: '00s

Locking horns somewhere betwixt the worlds of Southern sludge and art metal (well, Arkansas-style anyway), the band known as Rwake formed in Little Rock around 1997, recording their first demo the following year, and self-releasing a second, entitled Absence Due to Projection, in 1999. Another three years passed before the arrival of Rwake's first proper album, Hell Is a Door to the Sun, and another long-player, If You Walk Before You Crawl, You Crawl Before You Die, was completed for release through...
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Voices of Omens, Rwake
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