WAKE Reimagine What Heavy Music Means on 'Thought Form Descent'

BY Mark TremblayPublished Jul 22, 2022

WAKE have become an institution in Canadian heavy music. Starting out as an extremely raw grindcore band on 2014's False, then becoming a pseudo death metal band on 2018's Misery Rites and 2020's Devouring Ruin, WAKE's newest record Thought Form Descent sees the band taking all their experience in heavy music and utilizing those genres to create a more melodic sound. Thought Form Descent sees the band reimagine their definition of extreme metal and what "heavy" means to their sound.

Throughout their time as a band, WAKE have slowly drifted away from blast beats and dissonant riffs being the definition of their sound. On Thought Form Descent, most songs clock in at over six and a half minutes. This is the most prog-forward the band have ever sounded, and they even break out into some post-metal territory with dissonant, reverb-forward riffs on "Mourning Dirge" or the major-chord frenzy of "Swallow the Light." WAKE incorporate a plethora of different sonic tactics to open their sound in more melodic ways. This is particularly showcased on songs like "Observer to Master" and "Bleeding Eyes of the Watcher" that are continually putting contrasting elements together in ways that are beautifully melodic, juxtaposing harsh vocals with acoustic passages and melodic vocals with blistering blast beats. Wake have made their sound melodic and accessible in unconventional ways.

In addition to making a drastic sonic shift, WAKE take a new approach to lyrics. Where WAKE's songs have often focused on personal strife, Thought Form Descent threads together a singular fictional story. Conceptually, the album explores the idea that there is a labyrinth within the mind that manifests into physical reality. Like the rest of the band, vocalist Kyle Ball steps out of his comfort zone to do something unconventional, pushing towards a new personal best.

While there are a lot of new sounds presented here, WAKE still have room to explore and refine. Despite how nuanced and mature this offering is, there is a lack of memorable moments to come back to. WAKE have set a high bar with their past works: whether the visceral rage of False, the memorable riffs of Misery Rites, or the grand scope of Devouring RuinThough Form Descent feels like it is missing the hook to make it stand out in the band's epic catalogue.

Thought Form Descent is a record that really strives for a sound and audience that reaches far past the extreme heavy music that WAKE normally cater to. Thought Form Descent paves the way for where WAKE's sound is headed next.
(Metal Blade)

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