Wolvhammer Clawing Into Black Sun
Wolvhammer made a mark for themselves with the release of their sophomore effort The Obsidian Plains. The band’s blend of black metal, punk and sludge created an infectious metallic concoction that drew in fans like moths to flame. How does their third full-length stack up as a successor? Well, let’s just say that things have gotten a bit clearer on the production side and more dynamic with post-whatever leanings and atmosphere. Clawing Into Black Sun is every bit of its predecessor and more.
“The Silver Key” gets things rolling with a frigid, relatively straightforward black metal assault for the first few, brief seconds. Then guitarist Jeff Wilson decides to throw you all for a loop with shimmering guitar tones that sort of turns the song on it’s side while drummer Heath Rave keeps it all cohesively marching along at a good clip. The shredded shrieks of Adam Clemans is simply the icing on the top his delivery matches the chill of the song perfectly. There’s a ton of atmosphere within this song as it slows a bit into realms not typically explored in your standard black metal. It’s fairly dramatic and open with airy melodies permeating the despair.
After the fairly epic journey of the album opener has come to an end, there’s still seven more songs to tackle.
The title track begins with massive, martial riffing and heavy-handed drums. After the album opener, this track is nearly the opposite in terms of style. It’s got a more post-punk leaning that battles with the blackened edges and one hell of a head-banging chug. The trade off between distant, clean vocals and the more forward screams creates a nice dynamic, and one of my favorite on the release. “Slaves to the Grime” is more sludgy gallop than blackened mayhem as a relatively slow burner, churning bowels for six minutes.
Following a stellar trio of opening tracks, “The Desanctification” is another relatively slowly churning monster of a song before picking up late with a pile-driving attack. Distant, shouted vocals add a bit of depth to the track. The instrumental “Lethe” and somewhat forgettable “In Reverence” cause the second half of the album to lose some potency. Thankfully, “Death Division” is a raucous and high-energy track with a good bit of head banging chug peppering it’s forward-driving tempo. It leads in nicely to the massively big album closer “A Light That Doesn’t Yield.”
All in all, Clawing Into Black Sun is a solid offering from Minnesota’s Wolvhammer. Despite a couple of lackluster tracks, the album delivers the goods with an amalgam of black metal, punk and sludge that is catchy at times and downright frigid at others. I can dig it.