The Wake - Death-a-Holic
Spikefarm Records
Melodic Death Metal
10 songs (40:13)
Release year: 2006
The Wake, Spikefarm Records
Reviewed by Kayla

There are a lot of bands with the same name running around out there (I know of at least three Earths), but The Wake (from Finland) seem to be more concerned than most that potential fans be able to readily identify them. While the cover of their second full-length album, Death-a-Holic, only bears the standard band logo, their promo is careful to be billed as The (True) Wake, in case there were any doubts. It might have been a little more worthwhile for the band to have put that extra effort into making their sound as distinctive as their name, however. Although their skills certainly aren’t lacking, there’s nothing in particular to make them stand out from the melodeath hordes.

Perhaps the most striking feature of is its simultaneously repetitive and varied nature. Listen to any individual song by itself and you’re treated to a shifting, aggressive piece of melodic death metal, with vocals similar to Peter Lindroos (Norther). The production is very nicely balanced, although the bass has a peculiarly “twangy” quality at times – you can practically see each individual string vibration. There are no clean vocals (which is almost a surprise, given how mutable the songs are); Kaj Michelsson’s vocals tend to be fairly lacking in the dynamics department, and the only variation comes in the rhythm. Even then, his delivery is either shotgun-staccato or drawn out into something that, in a clean delivery, would be called melodic. The drumming is mostly simpler fare, with a few nice fills here and there; Suicide Manual, the opener, has the best of them. Speaking of openings, these guys do like their intros. Almost every song has one, and they seem to be special fans of the effect a single, growling guitar note rising in volume produces.

As might be expected with this sort of aggressive melodeath, a couple songs have a distinctly metalcore chug to them, especially Downward Groove. In this case, the varied nature of the song is a liability, as the switch to a more melodic passage heightens the metalcore aspect; it mimics the screamed-verse-clean-chorus structure a lot of metalcore has. Such crimes are minor, however, and more than made up for in the solos. The most unexpected point in the album comes at the track entitled Instrumental. The title is entirely self-explanatory, although whether it represents a lack of creativity or failed irony is debatable. The song itself is much slower than the rest of the album, darker and almost epic, and provides a welcome change from the frantic pace.

Despite the variation with the songs themselves, Death-a-Holic is a strangely repetitive album. The “backbone” of around three-quarters of the songs is based on the same riff, a pattern of two longer notes followed by a flourish of four or five shorter notes. Some songs are more similar than others; the main riff in Rejected is almost identical to the main riff in Suicide Manual, while it’s a little more subtle in The Elbow Of Zeus. Of the remaining songs, most also share significant similarities in riff structure. It’s as if The Wake wrote two riffs they liked and decided to craft an entire album’s worth of songs around them, changing them just enough from song to song to avoid out and out writing the same song ten times. Unfortunately, if you’re not a weird Swedish math metal band whose name is a bastardization of the Yiddish word for “crazy,” this doesn’t really work, and anyone listening to your album ends up feeling like they’ve just heard the same (albeit interesting) song ten times.

Death-a-Holic is the best argument for the shuffle button I’ve ever come across. Each song is solid by itself, and if interspersed with songs by other bands, the repetitive effect of the full album is resolved. However, when taken in its entirety, it’s forty minutes of a couple re-used melodic death metal riffs, and the well-crafted nature of the individual songs is lost.

Killing Songs :
Suicide Manual
Kayla quoted 67 / 100
Other albums by The Wake that we have reviewed:
The Wake - Ode to My Misery reviewed by Keegan and quoted 74 / 100
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