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2.83 | 3 ratings | 1 review
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Album · 2011

Filed under Melodic Black Metal


Disc 1
1. Jagd
2. Wir Sind Die Wölfe
3. Schwertzeit
4. Wolfskult
5. Naglfar
6. Glorreiche Tage
7. Phönix
8. Blutdienst III
9. Sehnsucht
10. Glutsturm

Disc 2 (Digipack)
1. Rotkäppchen (feat. Anna Murphy of Eluveitie)
2. Aus Der Asche Ins Licht
3. Helden Der Nacht
4. Nichts Zu Fürchten
5. Urd (acoustic version)
6. Verdandi (Wolfszeit acoustic version feat. Masha of Arkona)
7. Skuld (Skal acoustic version)
8. (Hidden Track)


- Philipp "Freki" Seiler / Vocals, Guitar
- Zasch "Hati" / Guitar
- Timo "Managarm" / Bass, Backing Vocals
- Silvester "Fenrier" Grundmann / Drums

About this release

NoiseArt Records 2011

Thanks to andyman1125 for the addition


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Wolfskult is the third full-length album from German metal act Varg, which was released in 2011, not overly long really since their previous offering Blutaar. To look at them you’d think that they were Turisas come again, as the group styles themselves in similar black and red warpaint. Their music however is much more extreme, being pretty much (well-produced) melodic black metal with some death and folk leanings. But anyway, Wolfskult was my introduction to the band, so this review is written for the perspective of a newcomer to Varg’s music.

After the symphonic intro Jagd, which is heavily laden with sound effects the album kicks off proper with Wir Sind Die Wölfe. The music instantly reminds me of another German act, Wolfchant, at around the time they released their album A Pagan Storm, in the way that folk melodies are actually played using lead guitar melodies rather than using actual folk instruments or synths. Practically everything in this song is the same sort of setup to Wolfchant’s music before that band expanded their sound on their own 2011 offering, Call of the Black Winds. Baring in mind what I mentioned above about being a newbie to Varg’s music, this song led me to believe two things. The first was that they were a folk metal band, and the second that they were a Wolfchant clone.

This is quickly proved untrue on both counts as Schwertzeit is the next track on offer, and the initial “hey this sounds like Wolfchant” thoughts are dashed as the band proves that they are no one trick pony. The song strips those folksy lead guitars back a bit to leave a larger focus on the metal riffing, and they actually do this in most of the songs on the album, which makes them sound more like a melodic death metal band, or a black metal band. It really depends on what song you’re on, although most of the record sound like black metal, of the better produced and melodic variety. I have read their sound described as ‘Viking Black Metal’. I don’t really subscribe to the Viking term in music myself since the term is pretty bastardised these days to mean literally anything with Viking themes, but maybe mentioned it here may help give you a better idea about Varg’s sound. Since the lyrics of Wolfskult are in German, which I don’t understand, I can neither confirm nor deny if Varg have been branded as such due to sound or lyrics.

There is much variation to how the songs are delivered, which is good, because their Pagan Storm era Wolfchant-ish songs like Wir Sind Die Wölfe and Glorreiche Tage come across as a poor copy. The variation in the tracks though allows me to tell them apart better, and there are more tracks where I can listen to them and think “that actually doesn’t sound like Wolfchant” than there is. So yeah, there are some similarities between the two bands, and the start of the album is misleading to the more typical sound of Varg, but the band shows more than enough variation in the way they do things for me not to want to completely write them off as a poor copy.

There’s just one problem; despite the presence of those folksy leads (actually the use of leads such as this are common in the album but only a few of them retain any of a folk feel), along with some occasional acoustics and folksy clean vocal, there is a distinct lack of folk metal in much of the music. I have to remind myself that I have not actually seen the band branded as being folk metal by the widespread media, but rather as terms such as Viking and Pagan Metal, neither of which really defines a sound as much as lyrical theme. On that note, I really should write off my disappointment of the lack of folk, since it was clearly my own misconception about the band, but I just can’t. The reason why is that there is much potential in the songs though where more folk stuff could have worked to the band’s advantage, especially in the song Naglfar, which has something of a melancholic feel to it, where some actual folk instrumentation work have gone done a treat and made it into a highlight of the album. It’s a real pity that they kept what folk influences they have to a minimum, because this potentially could have been a cracking folk metal release, whereas in actuality we’re left with an album which is otherwise as generic as it gets despite the variety.

There’s nothing that really jumps out at me for the right reasons within Wolfskult. It jumps out at me for having a lot of missed chances and several pointless things, such as a regular insistence to strip back the other instruments so the bass guitar becomes dominant in the sound, and these parts are completely useless, bog-standard bass work that add nothing to the songs the band does this in. It’s not a bad listen as such, but it doesn’t inspire me to want to check out their back catalogue, or to keep an eye on them for future releases and to be honest despite the fact that it’s generally solid material, it can hardly be considered a thrilling listen. It’s above average, but only just.

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven, scoring 5.5/10)

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