Winterwolf – Lycanthropic Metal Of Death Review

The first time I heard a band take death metal ethics and use them to create a more accessible “rock” feel was Entombed’s forever entertaining Wolverine Blues album. It was a record packed with cool riffs, churning Stockholm guitars and throaty roared vocals, but it was re-imagined with more moderate pacing, cleaner song structures and more of a tendency to “push the flats.” Drive like a rock band instead of locomote like a death metal band.

Release date: June 14, 2019. Label: Svart Records.
I admit, I am hitting this album blind. I have not heard Winterwolf before, so I am taking it as I hear it, and I like what I hear. The band takes the Death Rock concept and gives it a very dark edge, yet also calls back to the Wolverine Blues album that started it all for me. They do this by adding a nice touch of black metal to the mix, and varying the tempos and textures of the songs. Sure, the guitars are Stockholmy, but these Lupine-sapiens are poisoning the power with some icy phrasing. And sure, the rhythms are primal and rocking, but they are roughened with some blasting ferocity.

In a sense, this actually gets them closer to the actual Pure Death than Death Rock. What keeps them rockish is that sense of drive I mentioned; opening it up, embracing the bottoms, and just racing. Opening number “The Crypt of the Werewolves” primes you for what follows, crawling, then racing, then blasting, but always with a classic groovy, hooking feel.

Mind you, this is violently heavy stuff, lest you misconstrue. “At Dawn They Eat” is a slow, mayhem filled, off-beat powerhouse. It walks you into a a slaughterhouse and disassembles you while you watch. So too the opening riff of “Devouring Entities Devour”, a twisty little bastard of a ditty, with the band playing off a chromo riff snaking of and down the scales; fitting, as the band features Demilich’s Antti Boman. The rhythm section is truly nailed to the premise, making this a treat for lovers of such specific things.

When the band speeds up things get a little more average, though average these days is pretty fucking great. The blastier moments of “Wolf Finder General” do an expected amount of work to pull the listener around by the throat, but thew whole remains satisfying. Closer “Primal Life Code” melts all the methods the band has displayed previously and grinds you down with them one last, furious time.

Through it all, the vomited vocals and short but tasty solos keep the mood dark and interesting. The production is not dissimilar from other Rockholmy type acts. All this is presented with a lycanthropic motif which, depending on your love for feral transformations, may or may not enhance the experience. I tend to look past it. But the music is ballsy enough that I don’t feel like I am missing much.

Bottom line is that while you have heard some of this before, there is enough going on here to keep a metalhead sated. It’s pure, simple, evil, and HEAVY: a good fit for the last album of a tech/prog/black binge – something to wrangle you back into the real world with a thrill. Just be sure to check that all your limbs are still attached.

Posted by Chris Sessions

I write for Last Rites, but in my mind it is spelled Lassed Writes because I am a dreamer.

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