The metal shall set you free...
Genre: experimental black/thrash metal
Croatian act Wolfenhords is perhaps most known for the raw black metal style featured on the early releases and the National Socialist focus of the lyrics. Well, Wolfenhords' main man, The Nobll, has not just abandoned the raw black metal style and the National Socialist imagery, he has even denounced his first three albums as being "pretty shitty" and "not worthy of any attention".
So, what about the new Wolfenhords album The Truth Shall Set you Free. Well, first off, the National Socialist lyrics have been replaced with lyrical themes of occultism, paganism, anti-Christianity, individual freedom, and social issues. Moreover, while there are still plenty of black metal elements on this album, the raw black metal style is totally absent. So, fans of raw National Socialist black metal will have to go elsewhere to satisfy their needs.
But is this a shitty album, not worthy of any attention?
No, it's not shitty, and it definitely is worth of some attention, because I think it's actually a pretty cool album musically. As mentioned, some of the central black metal aesthetics are present on the album, such as the harsh vocals and the emphasis on repetition, but, rather than what you could perhaps call pure black metal, The Nobll has put together a style that incorporates elements from traditional heavy metal, thrash and speed metal with touches of folk metal and even US Power metal. There is quite an emphasis on melody - just check out the album's 11 minutes long epic title track which contains several guitar lead melodies, some synth leads, and a couple of clean-guitar passages, and a track like 'The Warriors of the Underground' is pretty much a melodic hard rock instrumental with a simple catchy riff and some memorable guitar harmonies.
Not afraid to experiment and pretty much break the boundaries of black metal, The Nobll makes extensive use of synths and electronic effects, many of which are completely remote from the black metal sound, but in most cases, I think this actually works quite well in generating a pretty unique sound. Some of the tracks also contain more symphonic elements – also electronically generated – which, while I get the idea, come across less powerfully than the other electronic elements (the intro, for instance, sound more like the music from an old Amiga 500 fantasy game). There are electronic elements throughout the album (a track like 'Saturn Rising' even features processed guitars and a disco beat and 'A Message to Marija Orsic' is a piece of dark ambient electronica). Kudos to Wolfenhords for the experiments with elctronics – not all of the experiments work, but the ones that do work very well.
National Socialist black metal fans should not expect too much of this album – The Nobll has abandoned and denounced that style; Wolfenhords has moved on. But fans of traditional heavy metal, speed and thrash metal, and dark metal should give it a listen. The way that elements from various metal genres (including black metal) are integrated into one sound which is further spiced up by electronic elements is definitely interesting. It will be interesting to see where The Nobll takes Wolfenhords next.
(review originally posted at seaoftranquility.org)