Death Wolf - Death Wolf
2011, Century Media
Being a huge fan of almost everything Glenn Danzig has put his voice to, it's no wonder I also became a fan of Devil's Whorehouse upon hearing their Revelation Unorthodox album a few years ago. The band oozed Danzig-ness. They weren't so much influenced by the earliest Misfits era, but rather the later years, around the time they broke up (Earth AD/Wolf's Blood) and their infamous frontman moved on to form Samhain with Brian Baker and Lyle Presslar from the remnants of Minor Threat. Devil's Whorehouse's music was a mix of fast heavy hardcore and thrash metal and the vocals were pure Samhain-Glenn. It was pastiche rather than parody. And it was actually really good. Particularly that album. The others though, left me vaguely disappointed. Then a few years roll by and the band resurfaces again, now with a new name - Death Wolf - signifying a move towards a sound more of their own; still unabashedly displaying their original influences proudly and openly, but also moving past it, to become more than just the-band-that-sounds-like-Misfits/Samhain.
Already on the opening track of their self titled album one notices a huge difference from the albums of the band's earlier incarnation; the riffs and rythms are less rooted in crossover/metal this time. It's heavier, it's rockier, punkier and bluesier. The vocals are both angrier and more relaxed and reminds me at times of Melvins frontman Buzz Osborne. Vocalist Maelstrom's voice still has a bit of that Danzig/Elvis twang to it, especially in the quieter, more emotional parts, but it's less apparent overall. There is also a sort of Dwid Hellion (Integrity) kind of snarling scream he uses in the faster, more furious tracks, like closer Dawn Of Flesh. The overall sound is less inspired by mid-eighties thrash metal than before; when it's hardcore it's pure hardcore and when it's metal it's pure metal, at times with a slow bluesy twist, if not in structure, then at least in melody. Think Entombed meets Melvins meets Earth AD-era Misfits meets early Danzig. This kicks so much ass it's unbelievable. Alot of the imagery is still very much steeped in that sensual, wet, warm occult darkness we've become accustomed to from both Danzig and Devil's Whorehouse but it feels less like a gimmick now and more like a cohesive whole that's actually part of an overall esthetic.
I know it may seem somewhat unfair to keep mentioning Glenn Danzig throughout this review, as if Death Wolf was nothing more than a fanboy-apes-their-hero-band, but the fact remains that much of what inspires these guys comes from that man. And to me it is as much a testament to his importance in modern heavy music, as it is to Death Wolf's vision and perseverance in creating something unique of their own, drawing influences from, but not limiting themselves to imitation of that man and his musical projects.
Death Wolf deserves much more attention than they seem to have garnered since the release of this album. They are hugely talented musicians and the rather oddly diverse musical threads they knit together in their songs fit as a whole in an ingenious and remarkable way. There's so much going on on this album it'll take many more spins for me to grasp it all. The range of moods and styles present on the album are so varied it's not really fair to call it just a metal album, nor would I call it hardcore (only a very few of the songs are actually that fast) and still it isn't a crossover album. It's just more and bigger and better than that.