Sunday, June 21, 2020

EP Review: Blood of the Wolf "III: Blood Legend" (Horror Pain Gore Death Productions) by Dave Wolff

Band: Blood of the Wolf
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Country: USA
Genre: Blackened death metal
EP: III: Blood Legend 
Format: Digital album
Label: Horror Pain Gore Death Productions
Release date: November 8, 2019
This EP simply crushes. I’ve watched Blood of the Wolf refine themselves since 2013 and each new release brings them another step to brutal perfection. “III: Blood Legend” boasts dark overtones, shades of Morbid Angel, Behemoth and Vader, black metal harmonies and guttural vocal fry to shred your being. These elements are thrown into the cauldron of extreme music and what emerges is a four-song giant heralding the ancient ones’ return, one Chicago death metal can be proud of. This is a band that started from the grassroots of that scene, and out of love for the genre prove bands don’t need state of the art equipment or mass advertising to make an impact. Those are worthwhile but this EP makes the statement that the passion of writing always comes first. Each riff written and each section arranged sounds carefully calculated to showcase the band’s talent and put it across to the listener what they’re capable of developing it into. Each note places emphasis on precision, heaviness and a feeling of creeping malevolence that’s flawlessly executed from the beginning of “Shadow of Shadows,” a song that treats you with a mid-tempo still before the storm before launching into relentless blast, savage guitars and lead progressions evoking the spirit of 90s black metal. Those vocals have to be heard firsthand to be believed. One extreme music fan remarked on Encyclopedia Metallum that such descriptions are nothing new when it comes to describing bands, but there’s something about this EP that validates all of them anew. Since releasing and re-releasing their full lengths “I: The Law of Retaliation” and “II: Campaign of Extermination” the band have worked on improving the art of infusing subtlety into their material. As such the appeal of “III: Blood Legend” doesn’t rely solely on all out push and brutality. The lead harmonies I mentioned are written into the songs to underscore their impressions of evil. While the more overt harmonies do well to complement the song structure, there are other harmonies more subtly added that you have to listen closely for. Next to the transitions between brutality and the quieter, more somber sections, those guitars add a semblance more like “The Omen” than a splatter or torture porn movie. This is something I’d want to hear more of from this band. The other three tracks on this EP, “Son of the Blood Oath,” “Progenitor” and ‘Fire Serpent,” utilize the brutality and transitions of the first track, with more emphasis on harmony and an all-out assault on your senses leaning closer to Marduk and Dark Funeral. Heavier bass and abrasive vocals come into the picture, bringing the intensity level to almost unbearable levels. Blood of the Wolf have come a long way in seven years, and with more work they should eventually find themselves at the forefront of U.S. blackened death metal. –Dave Wolff

Mike Koniglio: Vocals, guitars
Frank Garcia: Lead guitars
Christopher Grimes: Bass
Rick Hernandez: Drums

Track list:
1. Shadow of Shadows
2. Son of the Blood Oath
3. Progenitor
4. Fire Serpent


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