Some bands just truly love their fans and want to give them endless opportunities to grow record collections. Wake is certainly no Nunslaughter, but they have been busy in 2020 replenishing the musical coffers of their loyal followers.
Their fifth release revealed a band interested in experimentation with a desire to expand their sound beyond the trademark they had firmly established over the past decade. Surely, Confluence follows suit and simply provides us three more tracks of the same? Not quite.
Upon Confluence’s release, Wake sent a message to fans through Bandcamp that said:
“We had so many ideas and movements we wanted to work with when we were writing Devouring and there was just a whole lot of ground we didn’t get to cover; Confluence is our place to carry on with some of the experiments we had composed and flesh them out into something concise…All of us wanted to try a whole bunch of different things and we did our best to blend them together into something still purely forceful, but that will hopefully bring to bear other questions for listeners.”
This EP does represent a continuation of what Wake has learned in the sense of building songs with more atmosphere and dynamics, but what it offers is distinctly different than the approach taken on Devouring Ruin. For every hefty slab of death metal meat crammed into the maw of their full length, Confluence replaces them with black metal influences conjured under a modern funeral moon. These three songs offer a polished brand of technical black metal that no tape deck in a one-car garage is going to be capable of capturing.
The EP opens with a nearly 12-minute monster of a track that immediately establishes their shift in style by kicking off with 45 seconds of electronic atmospherics followed by 45 seconds of clean-picked guitars. Once the drums roll their way in, there is a true sense that the song is building toward its first moment of fury, which happens to be a rippling scream that announces a razor of a riff just before the three-minute mark.
As they have done throughout their career, Wake deftly swings between varying riffs at such speed that it’s surprising the songs aren’t even longer in order to accommodate them all.
Around 4:40, “Disparity and Chaos” manages to offer:
• A catchy, almost groove you can bob your head to
• A brief crushing passage
• A reigned in sorrowful tremolo riff
• And the removal of all pretense and simply blast your ears off
All of the above happens in under a minute.
Did you notice the second track has the word empyrean in it? That alone should be a dead giveaway that black metal sounds were coming your way considering its proliferation throughout that scene. “Beyond Empyrean” gives off an aura of ice that would make fellow sons of northern darkness proud. There are moments in this track that are reminiscent of the somber, yet uplifting sounds of Dead to a Dying World. Wake, however, still manages to blend in blitzkriegs of blistering speed that could force any dying world back to life.
The third and final song, “Entropic Cascade Failure,” is the shortest of the three and doesn’t quite fit the blackprint its predecessors created. This song focuses on simpler stop-start riffs and open passages that are more driven by the bass allowing for the vocals to pop more. When you listen to this one, you’ll be able to picture a member of the band getting the crowd to slow-clap to the beat with their hands over their heads.
Had Wake tried to fit Confluence’s elements into Devouring Ruin, that album would’ve been a disjointed bloated mess. This EP helps the band continue to show off their multi-faceted abilities and influences in a digestible format that only furthers the strength of their full-length rather than detracting from it. At the same time, this never comes across as scraps from the Devouring Ruin recording sessions that were too weak to make the final cut. If you haven’t listened to this band yet, starting with this brief blast of black isn’t a bad introduction.