Wolfbrigade - Damned
Southern Lord
Crustpunk/grindcore
12 songs (35'20")
Release year: 2012
Southern Lord
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

A couple of things were pretty certain after the first spin-through of Wolfbrigade Damned was over. There would be many of them, and it also brought the urge to listen to one of my favorite metal albums that I haven’t listened to in a while – specifically, At the Gates Slaughter of the Soul. And it isn’t that Damned has direct references to Slaughter of the Soul, although both bands have an awesome display of brutality running, but because Damned is most likely going to become that seminal album for me where once you hear it you begin to embrace the style it represents on the whole. Just like Slaughter of the Soul did many years ago.

The style of Wolfbrigade is crustpunk/grindcore, something, I admit, was overlooked by me before. Only having come across things either way too primitive or way too chaotic, not much from this metal grouping has clicked with me strongly before. This lack of connection is one of the reasons I am not going to be the best source of historical references about Wolfbrigade evolution. Swedish, the band has been around for nearly two decades, having reincarnated time and again, first as Wolfpack, then as Wolfbrigade, changing the lineups, but apparently preserving the attitude.

And it is attitude, spilling over the top, in their first LP for the venerable Southern Lord label, which corrupts and subjugates immediately. Devil-may-care moroseness, combined with skull bashing brutality, the album roars in with Feed the Flames, Slaves of Induction and Road to Dreams, nailing melodic solos all along the way before settling in on the savage riff of The Curse of Cain with melody dripping over it as well. The guitar sound of Damned, recorded in Studio Fredman with Fredrik Nordstrom, is the final nail to this puzzle. Downtuned, distorted, chaotic, it projects irritation, pensive dejectedness, electricity, yet the ability to shake things off and move forward at the same time. If you wanted just one song to be included on your sampler, my recommendation would be Ride the Steel, where after brooding intro and punky middle, the final melodic outro is downright heroic, able to lift you to the top of the world.

The riffs on Damned have an ability to engrain in your psyche and mow you down at the same time. Punky catchiness and death/grind brutality have a perfect ability to co-exist on the album (Catch 22) with things slipping into primal groove (Damned to Madness) or becoming almost sad and tragic in their melodic expressions (Peace of Mind). The vocals are fitting fire-breathing screams, writhing in agony, the lower register Thomas Lindgren, and I apologize for not knowing the vocalist’s name.

Fast-paced, but not blinding with speed that you can’t follow it, the album never overstays its welcome, and as punk always calls for some groove and repeatability, the album is over in 35 min, and you absolutely want more of it, to shake and bob to those riffs again. A powerful shot in the arm when you need it, Damned could be devastatingly empowering when you feel confident and strong in the first place. This stuff is uplifting as much as it is antagonizing. The power of d-beat rhythmic punk and death metal guitar sound has been reconfirmed.

Killing Songs :
The Curse of Cain, Ride the Steel, From Beyond, Catch 22, Peace of Mind
Alex quoted 91 / 100
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There are 2 replies to this review. Last one on Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:24 am
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