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WAKE: Born To Be Brutal

The death metal deviants rise above with new LP, Thought Form Descent.

by Christine Leonard

Acclaimed for splintering floorboards and teeth with their maximalist brand of brutal and blackened death metal, Calgary’s Wake has arisen from their subterranean slumber to once again walk this cursed Earth. Emerging from their caverns brandishing the latest weapon from their forge, Thought Form Descent, the quintet is ready to shake off the crust and threaten the general populace with a renewed sense of freedom and fury. 

An ear-blistering foray into the darkness, the sinister single “Swallow the Light” delivers a potent sonic head-butt that’ll leave you reeling. It’s obvious that vocalist Kyle Ball, bassist Ryan Kennedy, percussionist Josh Bueckert and guitarists Arjun Gill and Rob LaChance have been undeterred by forced confinement, stockpiling razor-sharp tunes that elevate their crushing style to greater heights of refinement and intensity.

“We had a lot of time on our hands during covid; we had nothing to do but write. We were practicing and writing three or four times a week and were able to focus a lot more on writing and the compositions of everything. With this new album we tried to bring some contrast and technicality to the music,” LaChance elaborates. “I guess it still has a lot of blast beats too, but the melodies and pretty details are a lot more evident than on the previous albums – without losing the heaviness. Having that balance of melodic hooks and a lot more atmosphere, the songs are busier, harder hitting, and a lot more dynamic.”

Needless to say, the band was deeply disappointed when their plans to tour in support of their 2020 releases Devouring Ruin and the Confluence EP were dashed like a bottle of Trooper against a parking block, but that delay is their audience’s gain as Wake is determined to make sure everyone gets a taste. “Devouring Ruin was released the month everything shut down and we were left to our own devices. We did Confluence and directly after that we were on such a roll and it came so naturally, after writing for two-and-a-half years straight at that point, we instantly started writing again without taking a break,” says LaChance. “Devouring Ruin didn’t get properly toured so we’re going to do a half-and-half type thing with both albums this time around.”

Master of juxtaposition and emphasizing the invisible, Dave Otero (Allegaeon, Cattle Decapitation) of Denver’s Flatline Audio in Colorado lent his intuitive mixing skills to Thought Form Descent’s heavy metal minority report. Meanwhile, the five-piece expanded their horizons by inviting Kevin Hufnagel of Gorguts and Vaura to join them in their trip down the proverbial rabbit hole. The result is a pair of exquisite guitar collaborations; the anything but random “Pareidolia” and the mysteriously melodic “Observer To Master,” which are both perfectly aligned with the LPs compelling momentum and verbal sting. “As far as concepts go, Kyle’s lyrics have kind of gone more abstract and more introspective at the same time. He has full rein to explore whatever themes he wants to set, such as descending into your own world.” 

Cleverly layering rhythmic mazes that shock and amuse, Gill and company pursue nightmarish fantasies through a soundscape of unforeseen peril and conceptual extremes. Pushing themselves to unprecedented heights on densely riff-laden cuts including “Infinite Inward,” “Bleeding Eyes of the Watcher,” and “The Translation of Deaths,” Wake’s complex and artful compositions march straight into the heart of funerary pyre and nonchalantly lights a cigarette. “We’ve already done over 70 dates this year and I’m just excited to see how people react to the new stuff. It’s definitely quite different from what we’ve done before, but I think people will notice our chemistry and how we’ve grown as musicians. Performing for a long time together has allowed us to fuck around a lot. It’s about time we found out.”