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Wolvhammer Nail a Death Blow with “The Monuments of Ash & Bone”


Blackened sludge quintet Wolvhammer don’t create breathtaking sculptures painstakingly ornamented with hand-carved embellishments. Rather, they sink down their piles and erect unforgiving monoliths of poured concrete. The Monuments of Ash & Bone, the band’s fourth full-length release, sees them further refining the bleak volatility formulated on their two prior outings with Profound Lore.

On The Monuments of Ash & Bone, Wolvhammer amplify their smothering sense of despair with effective use of repetition. There are few breaks — the album nearly bereft of purgative peaks or crescendos — only endless plains of desolation. The music of Wolvhammer, forged in the mould of harrowing second wave black metal and accented with half-time breakdowns and other aspects of hardcore and sludge, is the march of a deathless army to whom surrender is a foreign concept.

Black n’ roll stomper “Bathed in Moonblood and Wolflight,” is a surefire catalyst for violent pits. Vocalist Adam Clemans kick-starts this thrashy bruiser with an “Alright!” lifted straight out of “Seek and Destroy” and issued in his sandpaper snarl. On bass, Andrew Gerrity summons the song’s breakdown alone as his bandmates drop out to contrast the upcoming explosion. With this track, Wolvhammer prove themselves as capable when it comes to writing bangers as they are with heartless black metal.

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The black metal maelstrom resumes with “The Failure King,” which along with the previous track marks a triumphant zenith right at the album’s midpoint. The guitars on “The Failure King” represent Wolvhammer at their most melodic, especially in the song’s central breakdown. After seeming eons of unrelenting hopelessness, Wolvhammer let loose the flood of catharsis.

Wolvhammer offer one final reprieve with album closer “Solace Eclipsed,” which opens with gentle bowed strings. These precious minutes are a brief glimpse through the band’s otherwise stark façade. Clemans’ clean baritone returns, following its appearance in “Call Me Death,” to guide his bandmates into the mud-caked opening riff.

Jarrett Pritchard (Goatwhore, Exhumed) outfitted The Monuments of Ash & Bone with production murky enough to evoke an old-school aesthetic while stopping short of outright second wave worship. The drums are crisp, the vocals prominent, the bass present and active, and the guitars clean and discernable. Pritchard renders the album’s occasional guitar solos with a tone that is suitably piercing and hostile.

Wolvhammer’s songwriting is refreshing in its bludgeoning simplicity. The band craft their songs out of anger with all the elegance of a swinging sledgehammer heading straight for the listener’s teeth. There’s nothing subtle about penultimate track “Dead Rat Rotting Raven,” only the blunt force exemplified by its lyric, “Fuck your insignificant life.” The Monuments of Ash & Bone works brilliantly as a no-frills assemblage of black metal, hardcore, and sludge, dishing out fistfuls of pure fury with zero fuss or flair.

— Ivan Belcic

Wolvhammer are releasing The Monuments of Ash & Bone via Blood Music on May 4th. The album is currently up for pre-order in CD and vinyl formats and will also be available digitally as a PWYW download on Bandcamp. Follow Wolvhammer on Facebook and Bandcamp.


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