Rwake Emerges From The Southern Muck

mattg | August 23, 2007 12:16 pm
Because some of our readers may, in fact, be so full of vitriol that the combination of Justin Timberlake and Paxil just isn’t doin’ it for them anymore, we bring you our new bimonthly metal column, “Angry Music for Angry People,” written by MetalSucks‘ Axl Rosenberg, a.k.a. Matthew Goldenberg. In the first installment, he looks at the last-name-averse outfit Rwake.

Band: Rwake Sub-genre(s): Doom metal, sludge metal, stoner metal, prog metal Best known for: Being one of those bands whose name no one knows how to pronounce. Is the “w” silent, and it’s “rake?” Or is the “r” silent, and it’s “wake?” Or is it just “ruh-wake?” For people who like: Drugs that have to be smoked, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Mastodon Most interesting member: Singer/keyboard B., a petite, boyish woman with dreads who bares something of a resemblance to a gremlin. Those of us who find her cute anyway presumably do so because of her talent, not because we have severe psychological problems. Fun fact: B. is married to drummer Jeff Morgan, the only member of the band to openly utilize a last name.

Hundreds of bands since Metallica have followed the unwritten law that metal albums will open with soft, meditative instrumental bit before unleashing hell, but only Rwake has thought to use a banjo. In fact, few things–some piano there, some acoustic guitar here, a little bit of ambient white noise in the background–seem off-limits in Rwake’s world.

Rwake isn’t for those with short attention spans–a single song rarely runs under seven minutes–but they’re kept consistently interesting by the same ever-spiraling-outwards tendencies as acts like Pelican, Isis, and Tool. But Phish fans, beware: before you get too excited about toking up and tuning out, know that primary vocalist C.T. screams himself hoarse while the band seamlessly integrates slow, sludgy metal with the foreboding aural gathering of clouds that is the trademark of doom-metal bands like Agalloch and Daylight Dies, both of whom play atmospheric, super-slow music. Rwake’s music doesn’t zip along like Metallica or boogie-woogie like Guns N’ Roses–it kinda slowly dribbles, like thick, sticky sap on a tree, and occasionally painfully drags itself forward, like a woolly mammoth stuck in the mud. In other words: this is some heavy shit.

But fret not, Van Halenites and Yngwiests–this speed deficiency never prevents guitarists Gravy and Kiffin from shredding to their hearts’ contents. The band’s lack of traditional pop metal hooks may mean you’ll never see the brats at Hot Topic wearing its shirts, but that’s probably a good thing. There’s something mathematical about the constant shifts in the band’s music, yet it still sounds crazy, like a pack of wild dogs howling in a storm. To listen to Rwake, or see them live, is to understand that they really are some crazy hillbilly bastards, living in a shed somewhere, working real hard on making the most evil music ever.

Rwake – Leviticus [MP3] Rwake – Leviticus [YouTube] Rwake [MySpace]