Monday, August 22, 2011

Darkthule - Wolforder (2005)

Aesthetically, Wolforder is an album I feel some stirring in my blood to fawn over. The grim, nebulous cover art contrasts beautifully with the Greeks' inspiring, sharp, wicked logo; both its title and lyrical focus of atavistic, predatory pride and valor seem memorable enough. Whilst I've ever been predisposed towards the more unique character of Hellenic acts like Rotting Christ or Necromantia, long have I searched for a band from this scene who could broach the European landscape with the broader, Norse or Swedish derived sounds we've long associated in the medium. When I look at Darkthule's sophomore, I think to myself 'this could be the one'. And then, when I listen to it, I realize how such hopes were but shallow and misplaced...

For once again, Darkthule have executed their music in as stylistically safe a means as possible. Nothing presented on this album stands out or beyond the myriad precedents that the black metal enthusiast has experienced for 15 years before it. That in of itself would not be reason enough to scoff at its existence, but then the responsibility lies on the artist to carve out some quality riffing and memorable structure, which the Greeks do not here. Considering that the framework of Transilvanian Hunger, Det Som Engang Var and De Mysteriis dom Sathanas have provided all the necessary fundamentals, bands like Darkthule have all the tools with which to build upon. Instead, most of the album blasts along with unmemorable, garden variety guitar passages like those of "The Return and the Reborn of the Immortals", "The Day That We Will Return", "W.A.R." and so forth. Trite blasting with little variation, the one weapon being employed across the somber din of airy aggression being the slightly more filthy approach taken by the vocals.

Wolforder does possess a handful of slower fare ("Bloodshed for Victory", a few breakdowns in the other songs), but it takes practically 20-25 minutes for this to manifest, and in the meantime the riffs are just not strong enough to carry forth the same terrifying inspiration as the band's forebears were able to manage 10-15 years before. I've got no problem with the band's crude sense of production, in fact I revel in the form, but when the standout track on an album is a cover of one of the most obvious influences (Burzum's "Lost Wisdom"), it's hard not to feel as if the whole package represents another would-be lurking in the shadows, afraid to step one talon beyond the predetermined. The tinny if focused drums are no more than average, the bass never a factor, the guitars repetitious and lacking the captivation necessary to carry the force of the writing, and Wolforder ends up where Beyond the Endless Horizons left off: in a withering tempest of indistinction.

Verdict: Indifference [5.75/10] (I will swallow the blasphemers)

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