Album Review: WAKE – Thought Form Descent

While many bands’ production stagnated during the pandemic, Canada’s WAKE kicked their songwriting efforts into overdrive. By releasing a full-length, Devouring Ruin, and an EP, Confluence, in the same year, 2020, the five-piece proved their merit, but they didn’t rest on their laurels. They worked feverishly on Thought Form Descent—another full-length—unleashing it on July 22, not even a full two years removed from their previous release.

As impressive as their work ethic has been, so is their ambition to explore and experiment with writing concepts and techniques. The sense of urgency is immediately generated by the album’s opener “Infinite Inward.” A galvanizing groundswell of lo-fi synths, guitars, and marching snare rolls bloom into a grand salvo of instrumentation. Through its intensely melodic, blast beat-lead verses and dramatic, multi-voiced choruses—mixing deep growls, trebly screams, and melodious bellows—this launchpad song removes any doubt that WAKE is getting comfortable.

Their anguished black metal storm continues with “Swallow the Light.” As sorrowful riffs and malicious blasts paint such a distressing picture, it’s the distinct wretchedness of Kyle Ball’s witching screams that push the envelope.

“Mourning Dirge (Repose of the Dead)” swoops in with melancholic force. Its oppressive verses and a vast array of dissonant guitar riffs can break even the highest spirits. This is also the last gasp from the band’s black metal portion of the record; “Pareidolia,” an enchanting clean guitar interlude track, acts as a transitioning piece into the next phase of Thought Form Descent.

There’s a subtle drop-off in overall speed and brutality once “Venerate (The Undoing of All)” barrels along which carries over into the proceeding final songs. With the decrease in black and death metal essence comes an increase in emotional swaying grooves—think Killswitch Engage minus the operatic, beta clean vocals. “Observer to Master” and “Bleeding Eyes of the Watcher” follow suit with sections of sentimental low-gain guitar riffs, airy licks and leads.

“The Translation of Deaths” caps off the evolutionary journey with a distorted bass droning along a conclusive melody, accompanied by sustaining synths and delicate static.

It’s abundantly clear, especially through the lyrics, that WAKE set out to tell a philosophical tale with Thought Form Descent. With the existential crisis in hand, they called on Dave Otero (Allegaeon, Cattle Decapitation) at Flatline Audio in Denver, CO, once again to co-produce their studio recording. The soul-stirring finished product drops on July 22 via Metal Blade Records.

Buy the album here.

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