Wolf Blood - Roadburn 12 inch
The bell of the ride counts out a measure and soon enough the guitar starts in on “Witch,” the opening track from Wolf Blood‘s self-titled debut. Right away, something just seems bent. It’s like the sound is contorted somehow. It’s an otherworldly sensation and it continues throughout the Duluth, Minnesota, four-piece’s six-track offering, which follows through with a loosely cultish approach but is more geared toward general darkness and tonal space than trying to win you over to Team Lucifer. Driven by the riffs of guitarists Mike Messina and Mindy Johnson (the latter also vocals), “Witch” is the slowest of Wolf Blood‘s tracks until its complementary 12-minute closer “Procession of the Witch,” and it also provides one of the album’s signature hooks, so while it may not represent the High on Fire thrashy sensibility of “Exile,” Messina, Johnson, bassist Brian Wells and drummer/vocalist Jake Paulsrude are definitely putting their best foot forward, and they’re swinging it hard right at their audience.
Grooves and big riffs abound, but that’s nothing new to the converted, and where Wolf Blood really distinguish themselves is in the oddity of their aggression. Blending clean vocals, spoken parts and screams, they play off both metallic and heavy rock styles and craft something fluid and malevolent from them. There’s a sense of theatricality in side A finale “Dancing on Your Grave,” where much of the album’s second half seems to be more about pummel, but there’s an emerging personality at work across the board, and Wolf Blood emerge after “Procession of the Witch” unscathed by their own strangeness, having tread hard on a couple fine lines between subgenres. Ultimately, Wolf Blood is as satisfying for its brashness as it is for its density of groove.