We are currently experiencing an age where everyone and their mom plays in a stoner metal band. For some reason undecipherable (or, more accurately, yet to be figured out), there’s a huge glut of slow metal bands right now, and that’s leading to a few problems, namely, the fact that a lot of them aren’t particularly good. What’s causing this wave of lackluster stoner bands? What exactly has spawned this miasma of mediocrity onto our world? Unfortunately, what’s done this is the very nature of the music itself.

Now, nobody’s saying that stoner metal is a bad genre by any means, but the fact of the matter is that slow metal requires a deceptively adept touch and a real knack for composition that can only be learned through steeping oneself in the music for quite some time and allowing the knowledge of The Riff to percolate in one’s mind. There are lots of pretenders to the stoner metal throne (currently occupied by either Sleep or Electric Wizard, depending on whom you talk to), but not many actual heirs to the genre’s massive, slow, droning dynasty of sound. Much is to be inherited, yet few are the bands who would actually be capable of such a prestigious undertaking.

With every album, though, Wo Fat looks like more and more of a prime contender to this sacred spot. This Texan trio has been rocking for around a decade now, spreading groove as gospel and bringing newfound converts around the globe into the folds of the Riff Church. Their past two LPs, 2012’s The Black Code and 2014’s The Conjuring, haven’t been responsible for any sort of grand shift in the stoner metal paradigm as much as just being the shot in the arm the genre’s been needing for a few years now. Their sound is a fluid fusion of the molasses-in-January (or in August, for readers in the Southern hemisphere), BlackSabbath-drenched-in-cough-syrup vibes of Electric Wizard and the older, warbling tones of heavier psych rock bands like Cream and Deep Purple, along with a touch of Jimi Hendrix style LSD-warped blues. Point is, they bring every facet of the genre together in a fashion that makes them the perfect band to carry on the torch (read: joint) of modern stoner music, and Midnight Cometh once again proves why they can carry the mantle.

Not much is different this time around from their past few outings, but they’ve still found ways to improve on their formula: the intro to “Of Smoke and Fog” uses some effects not really heard before from the band that draw comparison to almighty peers Yob, and “Riffborn” stands out as one of the shortest and fastest bangers the band has put out to date. The core of their music remains the same; mellifluous guitar tones pound out chunky, groovy riffs that carry a distinct blues swing to them as the bass churns like a series of class V rapids and drums pound and shake for additional boogie factor. Midnight Cometh does bear a more bluesy and at-times Latin feel than their previous music – a couple songs use clacking Cuban percussion in various spots and solos are somehow even more pentatonic – but the record also find the band digging into their most metal with the heave-ho thrum of “Three Minutes to Midnight,” which does somehow manage to invoke the sensibility of the Iron Maiden song that clearly inspired the title.

Midnight Cometh, like previous Wo Fat albums, does not dramatically alter the trajectory or current landscape of stoner metal, nor does it particularly set out to do so. This is a band far more oriented toward writing some riffs that make you slowly nod your head and lean a little further back into the couch, and in that sense, they’ve passed with flying colors. Proving once again why they’re some of the heaviest heavyweights in an overcrowded genre, Midnight Cometh stands out among the throng with its supremely thick riffs and heavy psychedelic overtones. Put this on, lean back, and relax. You won’t regret a thing.

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Wo Fat – Midnight Cometh gets…

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