It’s been six years since USBM mainstay Woe released their last album, the excellent Hope Attrition. In the time since, they released one EP containing an original and a Dawn cover, but have otherwise been quiet—until now. Today, you can listen to “Scavenger Prophets,” the first new song from Woe since 2019 and the first from their new album, Legacies of Frailty.
The band’s fifth album, Legacies of Frailty also marks something of a return to form for Woe mastermind Chris Grigg, who plays every instrument (minus a few guest spots from drummer Lev Weinstein) on the album. Musically “Scavenger Prophets” and the rest of Legacies of Frailty feel like an in-between of the band’s rawer, classic music and the more mature songwriting and production of Hope Attrition. After four years with no new music, it’s a real treat to hear Grigg in top form, blasting through seven minutes of black metal.
“‘Scavenger Prophets’ is a song about the people who eagerly exploit chaos for their own benefit,” Grigg tells Decibel in a lengthy explanation. “It’s told from shifting perspectives, moving between the dramatic language of the true believers and a commentary that sees them for who they are. It’s a familiar scene that’s all around us but it’s not clear whether the people in the mobs know that they’re LARPing as soldiers in a great battle or if they’re just capitalizing on the moment. It captures the dramatic darkness and seriousness of conflict in the way that only black metal can. It’s a storm of raging riffs that strikes a balance between the icy severity of battle and the sorrow of wasted lives and ruined hopes.
“The phenomena of people desperate to belong to something bigger than themselves is something Woe explored on the last album in ‘No Blood Has Honor’ and it fascinates me. Every issue, every position, you’ll find people eager to weaponize and you’ll find people glad to be weaponized. These are key themes in Legacies of Frailty, a concept album about the way a society collapses as our modern intellect is overwhelmed by the primal call of tribalism and warfare. Religious brainwashing and self-proclaimed prophets manipulating the masses are classic black metal themes. They’re extremely relevant right now. Legacies of Frailty tells the story of a world engulfed in it and describes a population that’s helplessly consumed by the fires of conflicts that we thought were long-extinguished.
“Vocally, I wanted moments to feel like you were listening to a great unhinged orator, like a preacher lost within the word of their lord, commanding their army to rise up. In the speaker’s anguish, we hear their own desperation to find purpose amid the overwhelming sense of their own pointlessness. These are omnipresent themes throughout Woe’s history, and while Legacies of Frailty frames them in the context of a culture war that devours the world, we can still understand how emptiness can drive us to extremity.”
You can and should tune into “Scavenger Prophets” below. Legacies of Frailty is out on September 29 via Vendetta Records.