I am not an i-Tunes person, but whenever I poke around over there, their online store provides me with suggestions that are supposedly – based on my buying history – up my alley. Usually, I don’t pay too much attention to these recommendations. However, one name kept coming up over and over: Wo Fat! I thought: what a strange name for a band but I never bothered to actually check out any of their releases.
However, a couple of weeks ago something finally prompted me to click on one of those recommended records, which was Wo Fat – Noche del Chupacabra.
Ten minutes later I had ordered all four of their albums as CDs (obviously not through i-Tunes but via amazon). I was completely blown away. I just had a listen of a couple of seconds into Bajou Juju, which is the first track on ‘Noche del Chupacabra’, and I pretty much knew right then that I discovered a new gem for myself. A quick scanning of a couple more songs and, well, as I said, I don’t think it took me any longer than 10 minutes to place the order.
To my surprise, a couple of days later I received four CDs, but unfortunately there was a mix-up and I got “Psychodelonaut” twice, but no copy of “The Gathering Dark”. Fortunately, I was allowed to keep my duplicate at no charge and they sent me my missing album the next day.
Anyway, so let’s talk about ‘Noche del Chupacabra’ for a little bit. Before I go into more detail, I would like to apologize all long time Wo Fat fans out there – I am obviously new to the party and therefore not super familiar with the band members and their history. So the following should not be viewed as an album review by a qualified critic, but rather some preliminary feedback from a new Wo Fat admirer who just came off a two week trip listening to the record – with some Vitus, Sabbath and Sleep ‘breaks’ in between..;-)
I can say this: I’ve never heard anything like this before. It would be very difficult for me to appropriately and adequately articulate what I believe Wo Fat’s music can be described as. Which is fantastic, because it makes them unique. But if I had to come up with comparatives I would probably throw in some early Sabbath, Hendrix, Cream, Taste and Mountain…just heavier. To me, it’s kind of a fusion between the aforementioned acts but this is admittedly highly subjective, and others – including the band members – may object to this. But at the end of the day it’s almost irrelevant what you call it and for the sake of keeping things simple, I’d go with ‘heavy rock’ – that always seems to fit ;-).
As a guitarist, I am of course naturally drawn to the guitar parts. To keep it short: I’m not exaggerating when I say that Kent Stump’s guitar work is ‘par excellence’, a clever mix of sludgy doom riffs and sophisticated solo work, sprinkled with psychedelic elements. However, like with any good band, the guitar is just one component. Timothy Wilson’s bass playing and Michael Walters drum performance is just as mind boggling. I’ve recently read several references made by other performers who shared the stage with Wo Fat; all three band members received a lot of praise from their colleagues for their outstanding musicianship. And I couldn’t agree more. What makes Wo Fat in my opinion so remarkable is the fact that they are excellent individual musicians who manage to come together and create this tight unit.
‘Noche del Chupacabra’ is filled with earthy and heavy blues riffs, playful bass lines and gut punching drums. It’s full of surprises and in a way unpredictable, which is another trademark of a good record. With that being said, the album doesn’t lack structure. As a matter of fact, I would go as far as stating that you should listen to the record as a whole to get the most out of it. I’m not sure if I’m finding the right words here, but it’s just that – to me – ‘Noche del Chupacabra’ works best when I listen to it from the beginning to the end in one run, as opposed to the individual tracks. If I was more of a sophisticated person, I guess I would say that the album has a lot of ‘flow’. Anyway….
Alright, do yourself a favor and buy this CD/Vinyl. If you’re into hard rock, you’ll love it, I can guarantee that. It’s an honest, straight-forward, no bullshit piece of music with plenty of groove and booty-kicking. Personally, I can’t wait to now take a deep dive into “The Gathering Dark”. I’m a little afraid, because ‘Noche del Chupacabra’ set the bar very high – but these three guys are such high caliber instrumentalists, I’m sure it’s going to be awesome!