Thursday 4 April 2019

Krigere Wolf - Eternal Holocaust (2019)

Country: Italy
Style: Black/Death Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 1 Apr 2019
Sites: Facebook | Metal Archives

At a mere nine seconds shorter than Reign in Blood, here's an EP that ought to feel like it could be a short album, but it blisters along so fast and so incessantly that, like Reign in Blood, it's over in the blink of an eye, like a long single.

Krigere Wolf are an Italian band with two studio members: Rick Costantino on drums, bass and vocals; and Salvo Leonardi on guitars and vocals. Salvatore Martino Testa steps behind the drumkit for live gigs. None of these folk have much intention to slow down and, once the two minute intro is over, they're rarely inclined to leave hyperspeed.

The backing is all black metal, with blistering drums setting the pace and a playful guitar painting in the texture by echoing the drums at a slower pace, when not launching into solos. The vocals, however, are generally taken from the death metal playbook, which is why they regard themselves as black/death and not just black. This EP ends with a Dissection cover from Storm of the Light's Bane and it's a little more black than the original.

When Krigere Wolf slow down, it's to highlight their name through ambient sounds. "Krigere" is Danish for "warriors" and the eternal holocaust of the title is presumably talking about war generally rather than concentration camps. The ambient sections, such as that intro, Primordial, and the end of the title track, sound like they're recorded on a fantasy battlefield, with horses whinnying. I didn't hear a wolf, but it would have fit.

The production here is excellent, though I know that's looked down on in the more purist black metal circles, who would probably hate the solos here too as degenerate rock masturbation. I for one am happy for them. The drums are lower in the mix than guitars, so this approach creates an agreeable wall of sound, an enticing pit for the vocals to emerge from and flavour the songs all the more.

It's been a while since I've heard something this relatively straightforward in black metal. So many bands now are experimenting to add new elements into their sound, even if they're not adding the post- prefix to their genre. It's not a concern for Krigere Wolf apparently, as they're content to just blister along with precious little added to their core black/death style. Maybe there was a gong late in Mystic Genocide to prompt the band to pull back their war horses and wander tentatively through another ambient warzone. That's about it.

While it's nothing new, I liked this. It knows precisely what it wants to be and it executes that with technique and style. Each of the four originals at the heart of this EP have their own edges but play together very well. I'd be hard tasked to pick a favourite. Maybe Blasphemous Chaos Magnifience. Maybe Mystic Genocide. Vision of Death feels a little muddier than its peers with the vocals a little more lost but the guitar sound makes up for it. And the title track is no slouch either.

That leaves Night's Blood, the Dissection cover. It's certainly heavier but, to be fair, that's mostly because it benefits from strong production and the sort of modern equipment that the Swedes could have only dreamed about back in 1995. What's telling is that it's not that far away from the original, if we allow for the different vocal approach, but it plays very well alongside the band's originals. Way to wear your influences on your sleeve.

Krigere Wolf have been around since 2009 and they have three studio albums to their credit. On the basis of this EP, I'd be interested in seeking them out.

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