It’s no secret that the heavier side of punk rock owes much of its early origins not only to the United Kingdom but also to Sweden. It was among the cold ruins of Scandinavia that bands began pushing the boundaries of sonic aggression. It was out of this same push that black metal and death metal that were born. Those genres were the logical progression of punk rock angst and the pushed for unadulterated musical onslaught. That desire, to push the boundaries of how much aggression the human brain can take, continues today across the globe and Wolfbrigade is one of the most important bands in that locomotion of aggression.
The success of many of the more aggressive punk bands can often rely on their ability to attract fans of all things loud, noisy and angry. For a band cannot live on crust punks alone. Wolfbrigade has been one of the most successful bands at crossing over since their inception under the name Wolfpack in 1995. Their sound has always been easy to describe as bludgeoning, driving and straightforward. Time has seen the boys (across a few minor lineup tweaks) add more melody and more groove to their tracks, with Run With the Hunted providing a perfect blend of each.
Run With the Hunted continues a recent trend of larger, more well distributed labels recognizing bands that have had a career in the underground. Thus, Southern Lord is now the proud home of Wolfbrigade, which hopefully should mean that their message will reach a larger audience and influence the thought processes of a wider span of generations. An absolutely blistering 27-minute affair, Run With the Hunted adds more melody to the standard Wolfbrigade palette while still harkening back to their days as Wolfpack releasing classic albums like Lycanthro Punk. Certainly, Run With the Hunted features more mature vocals and better production than the Wolfpack of old, but still contains the same fury, excitement and anger on display.
Tracks like “Lucid Monomania” even sound downright rocking in both their vocals and pacing. Paying homage to Motörhead, Micke’s vocals affect a gravely demeanor using characteristic Lemmy inflections and bends (think of an updated take on Jonsson’s 1997 performance on “Powerpigs”). The track ends up sounding like some sped up, punk-angered track off Orgasmatron. Similarly, “Kallocain” combines a classic crust punk chord progression with a hefty amount of melody and singability. Uncharacteristic of Wolfbrigade, the track even features something of a modified guitar solo, albeit chunked chords and a brief whammy dive, making the track feel almost playful and bouncy.
Alternately, “War on Rules” and “Under the Bell” represent two of the harder hitting tracks the band has released in recent memory. Harkening back to their days of In Darkness You Feel No Regrets, these tracks simply burn the candle at both ends complete with more classic soloing, unrelenting rhythms, near hyperspeed picking and what can honestly be described as catchy melodies. Earlier on the album, “No Reward” provides a throwback feel for Wolfbrigade with easy to remember hooks and plenty of preludes disguised as breakdowns.
D-Beat, or hardcore punk, today a cavalcade of bands imitating the styles of old. Many bands struggle to gain a foothold or stand out among the sea of bullet belts and black bandanas. Wolfbrigade has never had that problem. With Run With the Hunted they only further cement their status as leaders of the school. Their longevity, endurance, stamina and general consistency make them one of the go-to bands for d-beat. Simply put, Run With the Hunted is a logical step forward for the band and a likely road map for where the rest will follow. Wolfbrigade continue to produce hard-hitting, mind-bending, politic-obliterating punk rock that will be adored by fans of both punk and metal.