“Clawing Into Black Sun”

By Dr. Abner Mality

I used to keep mixing these guys up with Wolvserpent all the time. This album should help ease the confusion. I like Wolvhammer’s gloomy but more focused approach a lot more than the pretentious boredom I experienced with Wolvserpent. These guys play an extremely dark and powerful kind of metal where influences are easy to detect yet the sound itself is fairly unique.

“The Silver Key” was not really the ideal introduction to the band. It’s fast and riffy, reminding me of the fastest Nachtmystium (Wolvhammer’s Jeff Wilson was a one-time member of that band….along with half the metal musicians in Chicago) but it ends up way too repetitive, taking a strong riff and beating it into the ground. I understand the hypnotic nature of repetition but they lay it on too thick here. Not to worry, as the album bounces back with some diverse dark metal.  “Death Division” has a kind of Gothic death rock feel to it…catchy but heavy. Even better is “Slave To the Grime”, which has a real chunky, lumbering groove, kind of like a cross between Satyricon and Celtic Frost. The influence of those two seminal bands can certainly be felt here.

Black metal and Gothic metal seamlessly merge with the very heavy “In Reverence” and the lighter, more melodic  “A Light That Doesn’t Yield”, but the real capper is the title track which has one of the most gripping hooks of the year. This last song also boasts a super-cool multi-tracked vocal approach that makes it very haunting. This song is definitely the direction Wolvhammer should aim at.

Pretty good album, with a lot of promise for the future.