You’ll know, of course, that Death Wolf, in its previous guise as Devils Whorehouse has been going since the start of the century in one form or another. It seems though that a name change was needed in order for the band to progress, so here we are in 2011 with the current moniker, which is a ‘symbol of strength, dedication and will’ according to the brief press release that accompanied this most excellent album.
There’s certainly a lot of strength about opener Circle of Abomination, which is an utterly terrific blast of grinding Discharge-inspired crust that’ll certainly clear any wax lingering about your earholes as your settle to listening to this invigoratingly challenging long player. It’s a little misleading as openers go, however – there’s nothing else on the album quite as intense as Circle... but this is an enlivening listen nonetheless.
Morning Czar Riseth is the next track worthy of your attention, being a far more gothic proposition than the three tracks that came before; a hideously compelling vision of a future where faceless bureaucrats have ordered Glenn Danzig to form a band with Electric Wizard to provide Soylent Green-style musical sustenance for a newly docile and compliant populace, this perhaps more than Circle of Abomination hints at where Death Wolf is heading in the long term.
Ironwood confirms this, exploring the territory marked out by Morning Czar... more thoroughly, the end result being a woozily heavy slab of psychedelic metallic heaviosity, long on dolor but still strangely vital.
Sword and Flame moves things back up a notch, intensity wise, whilst still retaining an alluring otherworldliness about its more prosaic riffage. Wolf’s Pallid Sister goes back the other way, leaving the listener’s head swimming as you struggle to gain some sort of stable central point around which to base your thoughts on the album. If Death Wolf meant to do that when sequencing this album then they couldn’t have succeeded any better; Just when you think you’ve got a handle on what’s going on the band changes things up again, the only constant being the devastating heaviness you are subjected to at every left turn.
After the brief Sabbathian interlude that is Ramsvart, Death Wolf indulges in a straight up slab of stoner goodness on Unto Dying Eyes, vocalist Maelstrom’s tortured howl at last making sense within the context of a song – everywhere else he’s deliberately seemed at odds vocally with the carnage unfolding around him courtesy of the metallic barrage being loosed by Marduk bassist Morgan, guitarist Makko and drummer Hrafn – before it’s back to the blackened old school hardcore warmongering of Black Mark which once again awakens seemingly long-buried thoughts of squalid flats, cider and old Varukers albums. Coming Forth by Night luches back drunkenly in the other direction again, Danzig’s essence again being summoned by the unholy blues unfolding from the speakers. Bitches, bongs, zombies and um, well, Satan probably, along with some wolves, obviously – they’re all here for the party if you’d care to join them...
Put simply, this is a fabulous album, if only because you won’t need to be a fan of any of the disparate influences drawn together here to enjoy the (rollercoaster) ride. It’s forty minutes of extreme, greasily addictive aggression – and you’ll love it.