The Wolves of Avalon - Y Gododdin
Godreah Records
Folk Metal
5 songs (28:50)
Release year: 2022
Godreah Records
Reviewed by Goat

Perhaps fated to be eternally considered a side project thanks to the presence of The Meads of Asphodel's Metatron on vocals, these Wolves of Avalon have been battling since 2011 and producing a finely distinct take on pagan metal across three albums. Apparently a full-length in style rather than a long EP, their latest release takes a look at the Battle of Catraeth, an early important battle in Britannic history that was commemorated in the Medieval Welsh poem of the same name. And it's a worthy listen for fans of blackened and folk metals, as well as heritage-minded folk, not least for the interesting guest vocal spots and often genuinely touching emotional impact. Beginning with Through the Murdering Night, featuring narration from Venom Inc's Tony Dolan, the piece builds not unlike an intro before launching into folk-infused heavy metal riffing something like a rougher version of recent Iron Maiden, Metatron's unmistakeable voice soon joining to paint the picture of glorious warriors heading into a final battle.

It ends a little abruptly, making it probably the weakest point of the album, not least for how strong the remaining tracks are. Meads of Asphodel fans will be at home with the following crunchy Men of Gododdin and The Shining Company, complete with Metatron's classic call-and-response style vocals, contrasted here with Taake's Hoest and Drudkh's Thurios on guest vocals with main wolf James Marinos, whose clean vocals are superb - and who also handles guitars, bass, piano, keyboards, accordion, mandola, and percussion on the project! There are wonderful folk instrumentals before widdly metal soloing, the balance between the various elements very well-thought out indeed, and a blackened gallop to the finish on Men of Gododdin that puts it slightly ahead of the two.

The final two tracks are a little more restrained and melancholic, but are where the clean vocals especially elevate things. Dead Men's Cloaks takes on a ghostly, gothic air in part thanks to guest Wulfstan of Forefather atop sombre piano, yet it's Is This How It's Meant to Be? that impresses most as Marinos again takes the clean leads in a very folksy and melancholic air aided by violin from guest Nico Millar (Aklash). Starting almost entirely acoustic before turning metallic around three minutes in, there's an odd progressive vibe to the track as it moves over its near-eight minute length, and although the clean-sung and heavier sections might be expected to clash, they don't and feel entirely natural. The Wolves of Avalon have always been at least solid but Y Gododdin is quite possibly their finest work to date - a great entry point for those new.

Killing Songs :
Men of Gododdin, Dead Men's Cloaks, Is This How It's Meant to Be?
Goat quoted 80 / 100
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