Hailing from Switzerland, W.O.F. which is short for World Of Freedom, is the brainchild of Olivier Guenat. He's not only a multi-instrumentalist and a virtuoso guitar player, but he also has an extraordinary voice. He formed the band together with his friends Steve Rumo (keyboards) and Frederic Charmillot (drums) and with the addition of Thierry Guillod (bass) and guitarist Dany Martin, the line-up has been completed in 2011. Now they released their debut album Search The Truth.
Musically W.O.F. mix a lot of styles; from classical music to progressive rock and from French chansons to pop music, but always with the emphasis on the guitar. The album begins with the intro Beginning Of The End that segues into the next song World Of Freedom, named after the band. This piece is the first surprise since the music is very bombastic and the vocals remind me of a style that could be heard in Broadway musicals, theoretically resembling Savatage, but just completely different. The vocals and the orchestration cause this bombastic sound, though the guitar sounds subtle and makes it something special. Rather original and hard to be compared to others; a nice way to start an album. This sound continues with I've Woken Up At Last, wherein the keyboards take the lead and the spoken words by Olivier Guenat just emphasize the music; a fine fluent guitar solo gives the song a classical touch.
Nothingness opens with a promising riff and the bombast of the previous songs slightly shifts to the background. The vocals sound more down to earth, but the credits go to the virtuoso guitar, bass and drum combination. The guitar takes the lead again in the album's title track Search The Truth, but there's always an accompanying keyboard under it. Here the vocal lines and the leading guitar riff are the parts that stand out together with an almost aggressive sounding guitar solo. A showcase for the instrumentalists is Just A Dream, an instrumental piece full of passion, nice guitar melodies on top of an orchestrated background. This is a relaxed way to show Guenat's skills on the guitar. When I heard Moment Of Doubt for the first time Therion immediately crossed my mind, though the vocals are less 'gothic'. The guitar play has a touch of Steve Morse that makes this a weird, but pleasant song.
Next is Like A Shadow that again contains the bombastic keyboards and piano, a nice fretless bass part and dark vocals. I love the sound of a crystal clear piano incorporated in a progressive metal song. Well done! I Shall Never Understand has a retro feel; a guitar on top of a Hammond sounding keyboard. It's more or less the way the late Gary Moore played his guitar and it completely differs from the other compositions. Olivier Guenat's classical inspiration is showed on Aria, a composition by J.S. Bach. It has been covered many times by other guitarists and here it works fine with the keyboard orchestration. It segues into the final piece of the album Concerto Pour Hautbois (Fa Mineur), an orchestrated song that marks the classical influences again.
W.O.F. has recorded an album containing many different styles without choosing one they want to follow. Some parts are heavy and bombastic with a gothic edge; others are much lighter and more concentrated on the guitar and some are classical. Search For Truth definitely is an album that takes some time to sink in. I've listened to it many times and I still don't know the reason for this mixture of styles. On the one hand the individual pieces sound well; on the other hand the lack of direction makes the album difficult to listen to. But I have to admit, W.O.F. is an outstanding band; if they choose a more cohesive musical direction, they will stand out.
***+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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