Jun 13, 2011

Wolfhead - S/T ...

Some bands seemingly come out of nowhere and that is the case with Wolfhead, a band who has released their début album on the great Doomentia Records. A little research tells me that within the ranks of the band you will find ex-members of bands such as Between The Frost, Graveyard and Warchetype but this is not a side-project but a fully fledged working outfit that was formed back in 2008. The trio of musicians here have a diverse range of influences and it shows on this album that is hard to tag to just one genre. On the one hand, their roots seem to be in classic doom-metal and 70's hard-rock however most members are involved in death metal projects. If that sounds confusing - the sounds, vibes and grooves here range from everything from Black Sabbath, Trouble, Monster Magnet, Alice In Chains, Kyuss to Motorhead and there is even hints of old-school black metal a-la Bathory. To throw another musical tangent into the mix, the final track on this album is a cover of Pink Floyd's 'Wish you Were Here'. Uniquely these influences come in short bursts and do not rule how this band sounds, rather the album is a mish-mash of genres all rolled into a stoner-metal package that is not clearly defined.

Wolfhead barrage their way through 5 smoking tunes before mellowing out for the Pink Floyd tune to round out the album and over the course of 36 very quick minutes, it is fairly enjoyable but it won't set the world on fire anytime soon. Don't get the wrong idea here, this is a solid album but soon as you hear the album's opener 'Journey by the Shaman’s Hand' you can't help but start making comparisons. During this opening tune, I couldn't help but think that Zakk Wylde was somehow steering the ship for a few minutes at least. This track has got a Black Label Society groove about it but at least it has an early BLS feel about it and it is nothing like the garbage that BLS are spewing out these days. This tune has sabbathian riffing mixed with a hint of 70's classic rock psychedelia. The sabbathian riffing is then swapped for old-school heavy-metal in 'Cul de Sac' which is reminiscent of classic Motorhead but like I hinted at earlier, it is more in the feel of the song rather than actual musical recycling. Keeping with the albums revolving door policy with genres, doom-metal is unleashed in the next track, the 8 minute 'Sons of Asgard.' Swirling guitars and sabbathian riffing crashes head-long into a vintage black-metal vibe especially in the lyrics which is pure epic Bathory, you know Thor, Valhalla, and all that Viking stuff that those kind of bands were obsessed by. Even though there is a large amount of spinal-tapish cheese to this song, the track actually proves to be the album's highlight and the atmosphere behind the track is mesmerizing.

As the title suggests, the following 'Doomed Faith' is doom but with less of the black-metal vibe that the previous track had. There is more really good sabbathian riffs but it also features some longish instrumental breaks that highlight the bands musical ability via some exciting guitar solos. The next tune, named after the band themselves, 'Wolfhead' has more doom riffs blended with a psyche-rock edge similar in feel to early Monster Magnet and is another highlight. The band really seem to come to life when the guitar work is allowed to stretch its wings with solos and this is a mesmerizing 7 or so minutes of good stoner-metal played the old-school way. The album ends on the Pink Floyd classic which is a stylistic blunder in my view, it is not that it is a bad version, it just doesn't fit the album and seems like an odd way to finish the proceedings. So Wolfhead have released a mix-bag with this début with some good doomy riffs, some blackened rock and roll, some real killer moments but also with a lot of so-so moments of predictable 70's stoner-metal that is well.....just above ordinary at best. I can't really see this album making any waves in the doom, stoner or in the general metal scene but overall it is a solid release with no real filler moments except for the Floyd tune that is strangely tacked onto the end of the disc.......7/10

Wolfhead @ MySpace

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