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Wolftooth burst into the scene in 2018 with a self-titled debut that rocked with nearly unearthly aptitude. That was just a year after their formation and, I'm sure, before anyone outside of their home state of Indiana knew they existed -- but that album put them on the map for purveyors of underground doom. Ever hungry and ready for another bite, they've returned just two years later with another drool-worthy slab of riff rock: Valhalla has arrived on Earth, and its thundering heavy metal is charging at your gates. Offer no resistance and stream the entire album right now:

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The undisputed truth is that Wolftooth are masters of the riff: accordingly, their songs are structured to let them shine and flex their might. Supporting this endeavor, though, there's clever interplay from the rest of the band to make sure that they really stick in your head -- intense, active basslines weave around the guitars while drums and vocals bridge the gaps with groovy textures and hooks. The rhythm section creates an ear-pleasing crunch that the sharp guitars can cut through but ensures the accents of each carefully-crafted passage find their mark.

While Wolftooth's self-titled hit hard and deadly, every element of their sound has been taken up a notch here, especially the production: the vocals sit satisfyingly above the guitars, the drums feel like a well-balanced backbone, and the various overdubs and harmonies enriching this record all sound crystal-clear atop the galloping mayhem. Accordingly, the band's songwriting chops have found ways to put all this to use: the chorus of "Possession," decked out with sparkling leads and ethereal backing vocals, isn't likely to leave my brain for the near future, and neither is the rest of the album, dropping pummeling barrages of riffs and chant-ready choruses left and right.

Valhalla lives up to its name -- though nobody died in battle to get there, it's an ascension for the battle-hardened doomsters, refining their refreshingly retro approach and capturing it in a ten-song volume for all to witness. You don't even need a Valkyrie to find it, but within its halls glorious conquests and untold stories await -- timeless and infinite.

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Valhalla releases May 22nd via Ripple Music (CD and Digital) and Cursed Tongue Records (Vinyl).

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