Reviews

Wolvesblood, Death Bearer (Self-Released, 2019)

I offered my advice. I gave you ample time to prepare. I warned what’d happen if you failed to listen. If last year’s “Love Unholy” single from Wolvesblood wasn’t enough to learn to guard your jugular, it’s on you. This feral crew of metallic warriors from Mobtown is back on the prowl, this time reinforced by a half dozen heretical hardcore ragers. Their recently released Death Bearer EP is an even more taut collection of songs forged in the flames of nihilism. One listen and it’s unlikely you’ll find yourself tempted to wander unaccompanied into the wilds of Baltimore… not when it’s patrolled by these sonic menaces. 

As immediate and fearsome a listen their three song debut proved to be, they’ve since likely spent agonizing blocks of time in the basement honing their lawless craft. The immediacy and ferocity of these tracks conjures images of a derelict practice space candlelit and dank as they carve away any remaining fat from their musical template with horrific incisors. One first notices the near-steroidal enhancement of the recording and, while more muscular, not an ounce of agony or aggression has been supplanted by sheen. 

Still keen to dine with kings, their table is set by an undeniable lineage of inspiration. There are still elements that call to mind All Out War, Buried Alive, Strife, and 100 Demons. Yet, this time around, the expanded palette includes flourishes of rumbling low end pummel informed by D-beat, and a greater focus on speed. They still manage to steamroll you, but you’re likely to be flattened in record time.

Blending swirls of manic guitar that’d fit seamlessly on Integrity’s pre-‘00s output, the brief flashes of Holy Terror and additional influences give way to meatier meals. Even if it all ultimately tastes like mangled roadkill or, fittingly, discarded prey; it’s worth scarfing down. Christian’s vocals sit squarely in the mix and are somehow more intimidating. Recalling 2019’s most unlikely throwback hype artists, there’s a hint of Kickback in the impossibly unhinged attack. 

With a sound this rattling, the Sicario sample of the title track/opener feels ever more unsettling. Laying claim to their own territory is an ungodly and loud proposition. Wolvesblood throw no missed punches, the build of the floor toms quickly gives way to a bruising hXc thrash riff. As openers go, their mission is most certainly to devastate. 

The following track “I Am Plague” is anchored by a molasses thick bass run that adds the dash of crust a la it’s more hardcore end. Think All Pigs Must Die pillaging Death Threat’s burning village and you’re close. An early album contender for best moment is the antagonistic and burly chant of the title. Heady? No. Scary? As shit.

Photo: Kandal Ishie

Both “Human Disease” and “Paid In Blood”, the midway point, are treatises on brutality. The foundation is the classic alchemy achieved by equal parts hardcore and metallic thrash, the blurs of chopped Slayer soloing and the guttural “ooooh” in the former are subtle but bloodletting. The latter contains a martial snare drum passage that commands like the whip crack. 

“Sleepwalker” begins with a harrowing sample, plaintively warning “Dying is the only way to get out of Baltimore.” From the sound of it, Wolvesblood would gladly expedite the process. The vocal approach vacillates between a cavernous scream and a higher register, which creates a vicious take on the classic call and response trope oft failed in hardcore. Check the riff and the beatdown bridge a minute in and tell me that’s not a high point of hXc in this or any year… fuck.

The closer ends in much the same way that we began. “A Violent Kind” is an absolute metalcore monster, albeit of the '90s variety. Instantly I’m reminded of an era before the panic chord barnstormed the scene. Imagine Firestorm-era Earth Crisis played at far too fast a speed and you’re hip to yet another one of this wolf pack’s litany of tricks. 

Wolvesblood are slated to destroy this year’s Mosh Against Addiction alongside Shattered Realm, Wisdom in Chains, Vamachara, Chamber, and Iron Price. Pick this up now and learn the words lest they bear their fangs. If you’re not listening to this band, you’re doing it wrong. 

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