Wolvencrown - Of Bark and Ash
Avantgarde Music
Atmospheric black metal
8 songs (45' 5")
Release year: 2019
Avantgarde Music
Reviewed by Andy

A relatively recent addition to the UK atmospheric black metal scene, Wolvencrown got favorable reviews for their debut EP, following it up this past December with Of Bark and Ash. They've been supporting a seemingly endless procession of nature-themed British and Scottish black metal bands, but don't expect to hear any fiddles or ocarina on Of Bark and Ash. The vibe definitely has some natural themes; it's also a lot rougher and colder than the soundscapes from the bands for which they open.

The album starts off without giving much of a hint of the sound they can set up; at first, I asked myself if there was really anything that special. As time goes on, however, the icy layers of blackness pile on: The two 1194 tracks increase measurably in wildness and ferocity, the second ending unexpectedly in melody. The guitars and bass are turned way up in the mix, with the keyboards out at the fringes, expanding the sound in a ghostly comet trail. I love it when an ABM band knows how to use keyboards tastefully, and Wolvencrown is clearly one of these.

The arrangement and production of these tunes are excellent as well: They slow down just enough sometimes for a bit of introspection without wallowing in it, and then get back up to speed, helped along by brisk blastbeats. The only thing I'm not terribly crazy about are the occasional female choir, which always sounds a bit jarring when it shows up. Something about them doesn't fit in the otherwise silky-smooth composition of these pieces, but I can't really complain much about this since they show up for only a minute in a few tracks.

Overall, Of Bark and Ash turns out to be a really strong debut LP. Very listenable without dipping into New-Age pseudo-paganism, it has a core of ragged steel under all the finely-crafted melodies that makes it worthy of some repeat listens.

Bandcamp: https://wolvencrownuk.bandcamp.com/.

Killing Songs :
1194 pt.2, Of Bark and Ash
Andy quoted 84 / 100
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