Saturday, August 6, 2011

Wolfnacht - Night of the Werewolf EP (2002)

Greece has been associated with a number of nationalist black metal outfits, but of these, Wolfnacht was perhaps the first to exercise its ideology in such an overt fashion. Already a seasoned underground act with five demos from 1998-2001, their Night of the Werewolf EP was their first chance at slightly wider exposure, featuring a handful of both original songs and cover tributes to fellow European NS and pagan metal acts. This is also another one-man show, sole member Athalwolf handling all instruments and vocals from whatever crypt or sub-cellar he devoted to his machinations. And while he's not so much a musical prodigy, he's competent across most devices, skill suited enough to the rather rock and punk inspired black metal redolent of Germans Absurd.

Night of the Werewolf is honestly a fairly diverse offering, despite its crude studio aesthetics. Within 10 minutes we've gone from "Todrunen", a grim and eerie ambient intro with chants and dark bell intonations; to "Night of the Werewolf" itself, a mid-paced rock/punk piece with the decrepit vocals we'd expect of the black metal genre; and then to "Black Bubonic Plague", a harsh stream of fast, melodic black metal with swaths of synthesizer applied for a grand atmosphere. The other originals are "Aufstand", with a muted hate rock riffing sequence accelerating into a punk explosion, clean vocals affixed to the primitive snarling, and "Wehrwolfsschantre", another traditional black metal tune which happens to be the most absorbing on the release, from its opening surge to the mixed rasps, Gothic drawl and synthesizers in the verse. The transitions here are a little 'loose', but the track honestly gives the impression that Athalwolf is pretty damn good at this once he leans towards the metallic side of his spectrum.

Then there are the three covers. He does a pretty rough job of "Wotans Krieger" by Germans Halgadom, a decent melodic pagan/black song in of itself, but the vocal mix is terrible, standing well out to the side of the underlying musical current. I had mentioned a comparison to Absurd earlier, and it's no surprise that he also takes on one of theirs, "Eternal Winter" from their old videotape of the same name. Definitely has a bit more of the punk edge, but I like the drums, even if the vocals still sound isolated from the rest of the mix. The last is not so much a cover as a blatant lifting of the Waffen SS "Pa Vikingtog" march, which is included as an outro, no doubt to whip up both patriotic scene points within the NSBM realm, and a little shock and loathing from detractors of bands under this banner. In truth, I actually found the original material here to be stronger than the covers. Overall it's not bad, but I did feel that his pure black metal writing was superior to the more rock-fueled venom.

Verdict: Indifference [6/10] (he will return this night)

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