Wolftooth - Wolftooth

Wolftooth cover
Cursed Tongue Records/Blackseed Records
Yet another exciting Indiana doom/heavy metal act alongside Wretch, Spirit Division and Sacred Leather, which has recently introduced its first foray to the masses is Richmond’s vulpine and toothsome Wolftooth with a titular forty-minute, eight tracked sonic attack readily bringing to mind a loose and gritty cross between The Sword – notably the Texans’ stripped down, effortlessly flowing third release, “Warp Riders”, from 2010 – and Fireball Ministry (while flush with Orange Goblin’s high level of accessibility and bluesy flair), largely due to the front men’s nasally twined, liberating vocals, as well as the abundance of active, promenading bass lines and drum beats which, at times, supersede the raucously fluid guitars.
Interestingly enough, instead of being relegated to the back, the more epic and provocative tracks serve as highly palatable, eye-opening starters, with “Blackbird’s Call” pleasantly unfolding to the sound of a Hellenic, clean guitar progression and lightly ruffling wind before ratcheting up to a grimy and raw palm-muted riff exactly one minute in as spectral chants pave the way for a sleazily soaring solo and further staccato drum rolls – its chorus is especially captivating and eerie – whilst “Aegaeon” snugly snoozes its majestic way in thanks to an auspiciously incepting reverb/feedback effect and poised, ruminating bass line until the transcendental and lyrically rich singing, again at the minute-mark, makes its entrance with a grandiosely stoic guitar lick holding it all in place, and thus for the song’s duration, piercing pentatonics withstanding. That said, Wolftooth’s atmospheric solidity amply makes up for a lack of diversity; in other words, the musicianship, while not-blowing, adroitly conveys the desired effect, namely that of a crepuscular, graveyard-originating, possibly lycanthropic, apparition trolling for its ghostly soul-mate amidst an autumn breeze creepily blowing through deserted, gas-lit cobblestone streets (or something like that!).
Instant, cruising down the dirt road while enthusiastically beating your palms (feet on floor if riding shotgun) on the dashboard kind of gratification can easily be gleaned on upbeat rockers/toe-tappers such as “Sword of My Father”, “Frost Lord” and “The Huntress”, while the boys take a backseat on the groovy, un-distorted twirler which is “Season of the Witch”, although to be fair, this last soon delves into a bedevilling stomp-swagger rhythm akin to heavy psych rock such as Sleeping Widow or Ruby The Hatchet. The bass heavy swing shuffler which is “White Mountain” is no slouch either whilst closer “Forged in Fire” adheres to somewhat of a serious and incrementally peaking build-up and momentum, triplet based and effectively flame tempered with a quick tempo and hardy disposition rather in line with the aforementioned Golden state quasi-trad metal congregation, Fireball Ministry. This is duly re-enforced by a super bluesy back-and-forth guitar revolution, which eventually reverts to its initial languor as it sets the stage for one final albeit ominous harangue before soothingly fading to black.
Although the fairly nascent quartet, founded last year, is officially signed with Cursed Tongue Records – as fine a genre purveyor as any – but settled with Blackseed Records (for the CD version anyhow) the end result is the same; namely a fun, non-committal celebration tailor made for any self-proclaimed stoner/doom metal fan. Admittedly, it would be nice to see the band develop more of its own signature sound, as well as introduce more depth to its relatively prosaic song constructs. As it is, the album feels shorter than it actually is – short of saying the tracks all sound the same, the guitar riffs could benefit from more hooks whilst the vocals, to my ears, overtly mimic those of The Sword’s JD Cronise. It’s somewhat of a double edged sword (no pun intended): the band’s easily digestible sound is also what prevents it from carving its own identity. While I instantly took to Wolfooth, notably the immensely catchy and engaging “Sword of My Father” and galloping/wheeling “Frost Lord” (who’d make a fine pair with Lady Beast’s “The Frost Giant’s Daughter”!) – which surely sound like waylaid The Sword bonus tracks – I now find myself wanting after repeated listens. In any case, this American formation constitutes an excellent first choice for those unfamiliar with the genre or heavy metal in general as well as novice doom diggers such as myself. Just be wary spinning it during the full moon…