Wo Fat – The Black Code

Published on November 22nd, 2012

Deep in the heart of Texas, a monster stoner rock band lurks in the shadows. Cream of the crop of Small Stone Records current releases. OUT NOW!

Texas could well be the most psychedelic state in the USA. On top of giving us The 13th Floor Elevators and Red Crayola in the 1960s, we now have The Black Code – the fourth album from Texan’s masters of heavy blues riffage, Wo Fat. (They’re named after a villain from Hawaii 5-O in case you were wondering). At it’s heart it’s a blues based rock album, albeit with Texan-sized doses of heavy stoner psych. The band have proved that there’s plenty of life left in those old blues scales yet, especially when given the fresh twist of lyrics that mix dark fantasy, the soul stealing digital age, magic, and the science fiction of H.P. Lovecraft.

Like most music that’s deeply rooted in the blues there’s plenty of room and scope for improvisation. The telepathy between the players, no doubt forged from their tenb years together, means they can feed off each other’s playing till the riffs and grooves reach their full potential. The awesomely named Kent Stump takes his guitar on unhinged flights of fancy, impressively cliché- free, exploratory and inventive. His playing is characterised by de-tuned root notes, a touch of wah-wah here and there, along with some stellar slide work. The equally impressive rhythm section (Tim Wilson on bass, Michael Walter on drums), hold it all together, driving the pace ever forward.

For an album that only contains five tracks you don’t feel short changed with three of the songs clocking in over the ten minute mark. Sixty odd years after Leon Payne wrote the classic country tune Lost Highway, Wo Fat open the album with their own track of the same name, bringing the original song’s dark themes bang up to date, with killer bluesy riffs and a guitar solo to die for. This is followed by the album’s title track, a similarly intense rocker whose lyrics serve as a warning to anyone who’s too attached to their iPhone or has spent too much time on social networking sites -

“You came through the Cloud, with beckoning digital witchery, Almost bought into your virtual utopia, Cyberdrunk with a Quantum succubus, Lured to sell it all on a server named Faust.us”

Hurt At Gone showcases Stump’s masterful slide guitar, whereas The Shard Of Leng is a more contemplative, laid-back affair. It’s vocal free for the first six minutes, the riffs subtly mutate until the hypnotic intensity reaches its peak. Sleep Of The Black Lotus rounds off the album, the band feeling their way into the groove which rises out of the sonic swamp on the back of Walters drumming. This is an album that had me going back to the start as soon as it had finished. Hard and heavy stoner rock at its finest.


Click here for Wo Fat’s website.

Released on Small Stone Records 12th November 2012

rating 8/10