Written by: The Voiceless Apparition
It seems rather apparent that I don't review a lot of doom and sludge metal bands. It's not due a distaste for the genre, moresob just not looking hard enough. There are plenty of great albums/bands in the genre, but I find myself gravitating towards other sub-sects of the overarching metal genre. But here we have Of Wolves--a "newcomer" to the scene and already making a name for themselves due to the fact that they combine everything great with punk and metal. If you want crushing slow songs, you'll get them. If you want hardcore headbanging songs, you'll get them too.
Of Wolves have something to prove with their second album Balance. As for the quality of the songs... let's find out.
Opening track "Mens Rea (Izaguf)" is a straight-up post-punk banger. Melding the styles of hardcore and the melodic and simplistic side of post-punk. The main riff has a rock 'n roll swagger unseen in a lot of modern punk bands nowadays. Followup "Jesus Jihad" is where the album starts to pick up steam. This song falls more on the sludge side, but with flourishes of psychedelic melodies and fantastic female vocal chants layered overtop of everything. It really gives the song an open-air atmosphere to it.
"Maker" is a hardcore neck-breaker. The main riff in this song is crushing--it's groovy and simplistic, giving it the impact it deserves. This song is just a banger through-and-through, It's just so damn catchy! That said, "Balance" and "Clear Cutting/Bloodshed/Heart to Hand" are where the album really elevates into newer dimensions, particularly with the former of the 2 tracks. "Balance" is a spaced-out psychedelic doom metal song with an emphasis on atmosphere and building mood. I absolutely love the meditative and calm beginning of the song. It feels as if you are floating in a body of water, weightless and unafraid. The song slowly builds up and takes it's time but it's well-worth it in the end. "Clear Cutting/Bloodshed/Heart to Hand" keeps the momentum of doom going but this time with more focus on riffs. Atmosphere is still prevalent this time, but it's used more as a tool for adding diversity rather than something just thrown in there.
"Killing Spree" is another straightforward song. The main riff in the song gives me a mid '90s Southern California skate punk vibe to it. The riff is extremely hooky and catchy, with more emphasis on melody. "Inside" is easily the most chaotic and insane song on the album. The best way to describe it is if Voivod played grindcore. I love the twists and turns in this song; the crazy sample-warping they do really adds more insanity to this already potent blend of schizophrenic styles. The album ends with a cover of the Misfits classic "Die, Die My Darling," and it's a damn good cover. They don't copy the original structure, rather, they perform it in their own style and it really benefits them to have the courage to do a cover and not copy directly. Fantastic way to end the album.
Not many bands can master one style of music, let alone multiple. The fact that this is only their second album makes that mastery even more special and praise-worthy. Of Wolves have crafted a chaotic blend of doom metal, post-punk, grindcore, hardcore, and various other elements as well, and it works damn well. It's really hard for me to rate this album, as I feel like this is only the tip of the iceberg for the band but at the same time there have just been so many great albums this year it may get lost and fly under everyone's radar.
Is this my favorite album of the year? No, but only because of the influx of stellar releases this year. But is it a fucking fantastic album swimming in originality, and it's just a damn easy and fun listening experience. Please, I urge you, dear reader, to go check this album out and support this band. Buy a CD, get a shirt, order an LP, just please support. Big things are ahead for them, I can feel it. Of Wolves: job well-done!
Of Wolves - Balance will be released July 4th from Trepanation Recordings
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!