Friday, April 29, 2016

Album Review: "Skeleton Wolf" by Skeleton Wolf

Skeleton Wolf
At some point every conceivable chord progression will have passed from a guitarist's hands, through an amplifier, and into the ears of the world.  

Thankfully, this day has not yet come, but we are a multitude of glorious riffs closer with the release of the eponymous Skeleton Wolf album. Following in the footsteps of other modern epic thrash metalers such as Amon Amarth, Exmortus and Machine Head, and reminiscent of one of the 80s most underrated thrash metal band’s Hallow’s Eve, 

Skeleton Wolf carries on the genre’s proud tradition of bombastic riffs, breakneck drums and thundering bass lines. 

Technology allows musicians to seamlessly track individual instruments one at a time, avoiding the necessity of having all band members present at the time of recording, or as in the case of this album a band’s roster need not even be entirely filled. 

Skeleton Wolf
Production of the album began over a year ago and was initially limited to only Brett Schlagel laying down track after track of guitar parts, with the rest of the band to be added later. 

Metal music has always been less concerned with the vocal melody than most other forms of music.  

It is possible Schlagel had this in mind  as he built songs around metal’s trademark distorted power chord riff. 

The relentless and infectious onslaught of these riffs, often times highlighted in isolation to other instruments, is the driving force of Skeleton Wolf. 

This is not to say the bass, drums and vocals are not of equal quality on this album. Just as important are the harsh vocals of Tim Green which are somewhat of an amalgamation of black metal, death metal and traditional thrash. 

The vocals are less of a growl and more of an angry snarl.  Green's vocals are considerably more discernable than almost all black metal songs and most death metal songs, which allows the listener to appreciate the band's clever lyrics.  And it is the snarl which adds gravitas to timeless topics such as death, insanity, immortality and insomnia.  

Similarly, bassist Jeff Mason thumps along with each riff, creating a solid rhythm over the foundation of the constant double bass beats of an uncredited drummer.   The album opens with my favorite track “Bow Down to Death” a bombastic thrash masterpiece, which could proudly exist on a Megadeth album, and will instantly have you banging your head.  There is no let up from this intensity throughout the album.  

Another highlight in a sea of brutal, aggressive metal, is the heaviest track “Whatever Demons”, with its blackened undercurrent of artillery drum blasts and lightning riffs.

Especially powerful is the galloping riff which propels “She’s Insane”, which sounds as though it were accompanying an army charging into battle.   

Throughout each listen to the album I kept reaching for the volume switch to turn it up just a little bit louder.  Skeleton Wolf is extreme metal, which begs to be played at an extreme volume.

Release: 10 June 2016
Genre: Blackened Thrash Metal
Label: Self Released

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