Wake’s Official Bio
Canada’s WAKE have never been a band interested in repeating themselves, this abundantly apparent from their discography, having evolved with every release. 2020’s Devouring Ruin made this more clear than ever, hammering the point home with the Confluence EP in the same year, and now they return with Thought Form Descent, their most dynamic, diverse and emotional release to date. “I’d describe the record as a place to reconsider what ‘extreme’ means. The words ‘brutal’, ‘crushing’, ‘devastating’ are overused adjectives for extreme music. We wanted to force people to confront the idea that ‘brutal’ or ‘extreme’ ideas aren’t just blast beats or angular tritones, or, more importantly, ‘brutal’ elements alongside pointedly passive elements can create their own experience that can channel both and neither.” The result is eight nuanced tracks that run the gamut from relentlessly heavy to exquisitely beautiful, often simultaneously, and instantly grab hold of the listener, demanding their full attention. However, at the same time, they are lushly textured and densely layered, and offer more with every subsequent exposure, unfurling to show hidden depths, and taking WAKE to a whole new level.
In May 2023, I finally got the opportunity to see one of my absolute favorite bands live after years of waiting. That band was Conjurer during their tour with Khemmis and Wake on their stop in Austin.
These were two bands that I wasn’t familiar with but excited to see after listening to some of their tunes on Spotify. Admittedly, after moving to Austin in 2013 and starting my post-college career, I haven’t done a great job of going to shows of bands I wasn’t familiar with so this was a welcomed experience back to my days of seeing shows with my dad as a teenager.
Papa J and I got to the show early, both incredibly excited to finally be on the other side of the pandemic (more or less) and to see live music again. After finding our spot where we both felt the music was going to sound the best, we got ready for Wake to take the stage to see what they were all about.
Within seconds of the first song, Papa J and I turned to each other and were absolutely blown away. The first thing we noticed was how Ryan, the bass player, was incredibly intentional with his picking method. Something you don’t see too often in metal but something both of us appreciated as we are also bass players.
As we paid closer attention to the rest of the band we were continued to be blown away. Kyle’s vocal approach was outstanding, especially when paired with Ryan’s backing vocals. Arjun and Ryan both added a ton of texture and melodic variation with their guitar parts. And of course Josh’s rhythmic choices not only being incredibly thoughtful and diverse but also executed with a masterful technique and consistency. The entire band was firing on all cylinders and it showed.
But, even with all of that, the best part was that it was clear the entire band was having a good time playing their music. The energy they put off paired with the look of enjoyment on their faces said everything I needed to know about them. These guys truly love what they do and are in it for the right reasons.
As soon as I got home, I started diving deeper into the band’s music and truly fell in love with them. I screwed up and didn’t purchase much merch at the show but I promise that mistake has been corrected. I’m the proud owner of three of their albums on vinyl and proudly rock my Thought Form Descent shirt as often as possible.
Upon further inspection of the band, it’s hard to fit them into a specific genre of metal. Not that I’m a fan of labeling bands but my listening tends to follow thematic trends so it’s something I think about. With Wake, there are several themes at play at any given time. You can hear their influences from grindcore (especially on their earlier releases), black metal, death metal, and even death-doom at times. That being said, they definitely don’t fit into any mold. They take those influences and create music that is distinctly theirs and couldn’t be imitated easily. One of those bands with a style so unique you could easily identify one of their songs if mixed up with some of their peers.
Another aspect of the band that I really enjoy is the way they approach their lyrical content. There is a dark bleakness to their lyrics that is approached in a very unique way. While the elements of death, despair, and even cosmic-horror are present, it’s almost presented as subtext or metaphor. It’s not over the top on the surface but the more you sit with it the more it starts to click how intense the lyrical content is. I really appreciate that approach. It would be so easy to write over-the-top gory lyrics that are right in your face but don’t necessarily make you think.
To me, their music is almost like the Dark Souls games. Thought provoking while still being full of substance on multiple levels. Enjoyable for a casual metal fan or someone looking for tunes that make them think a bit.
For someone looking to get into the band, while I think their entire discography is solid, you can’t go wrong with their most recent releases (Thought Form Descent, Confluence, and Devouring Ruin). You can tell there was a lot of growth over the band’s career and the maturity through the song-writing is extremely evident on their more recent releases.
What’s Going on with Wake?
At time of writing this, Wake has just set out on their tour with Full of Hell and Inter Arma, two bands that I’m incredibly eager to see live. Fingers crossed I can make it out to the Austin show. I would definitely encourage any metal fans who have a show stopping near them to check it out. It’s going to be killer!