Say it three times as if you are exhaling exhaust fumes.
There ya go.
Wo Fat has been solidly under the radar for most due to the insular nature of anything metal and the even more solitary cross over genre assemblages of desert rock, stoner, sludge, doom, grunge, and thrash. If you aren’t familiar with the above nuances it sort of speaks to the problem. Of all the conflicting genre allegiances, Wo Fat’s The Conjuring more closely resembles the desert founders Kyuss in terms of production and composition and the likes of Orange Goblin and Truckfighters in execution. If you are among those who throw their hands up at most things desert rock, know that this is the album that best illustrates why metal heads are so damned relaxed. Imagine the Swamp Thing drags itself across the Texas desert, tossing cigarettes in the faces of everyone not willing to light up and roll out. Then, as if by some hard-earned benevolence, Swamp Thing lulls you to sleep with the siren song of what pulled him across the vast empty of the American south west in the first place.
This is The Conjuring.
In what is probably their most well rounded track, “Read the Omens,” we wait with wide open ride-rompin glee for the first line “Got a text/from beyond.” While that may seem absurd if not hilarious, it’s indicative of the album’s overall ability to make the mundane feel inviting and dangerous. Of the album’s five tracks the shortest is the appropriately named “Beggar’s Bargain” at six and half minutes. The ultimate track “Dreamwalker” takes you out over the wastes for over seventeen minutes. That may seem excessive, but it does make the idle listener commit if nothing else. That said, some of the album’s lowest points come from its more live elements. Growls and various vocal floundering would fit right at home on stage, but throw us out of the album’s fecund labor. A few riffs feel a little safe, or at least as safe as Boris ever got with Heavy Rocks. If any criticism could be fired at The Conjuring is that it feels a bit too familiar structurally to most of the genre faire, lingering on certain solo elements such as “Beggar’s Bargain” when a nod to the wide open riffs of Om might have done them more good. The long winded opening of “Pale Rider From the Ice” never quite feels justified, and could have been just as easily a minute shorter.
To put it plain, this album, above all else, has fun. The Conjuring summons something that slithers in the shadows and goes for the throat. Kent Stump’s (I swear that’s his name) guitar work on “Pale Rider From the Ice” should be sold as a barroom brawl preset. In fact, each of Wo Fat’s three members play off each other so well, that you’d swear there were five of them. Essentially, The Conjuring shows a comfort with the album medium that their previous five albums haven’t. More than likely, this is because they keep the live edge as electric as possible, letting Michael Walter’s cymbal work paint a crimson skyline supported by Tim Wilson’s bayou grooves. This is a hard working band and a hard working album that doesn’t shy away from the demands of song craft. “Dreamwalker” brings you seventeen minutes of what you never knew you were waiting for – a damned demon. The album’s name then, is really more than the obvious nod to stoner mythos; it’s a sort of preview. I’d be tempted to listen to it while reading Doctor Faustus, but even the most skeptic heart might need a night light. None of which is anything less than ritualistic satisfaction.
– Matthew Kay
P.S. This album is particularly susceptible to crappy headphones. Bring your best. This thing definitely suffers from sonic translation.