Wolvhammer – The Obsidian Plains (Profound Lore Records)

Sunday, 24th March 2013
Rating: 8/10

Yet another good pickup for Profound Lore, Minneapolis/Chicago-based blackened sludge metallers Wolvhammer prove to be an ideal fit for the increasingly discordant and varied USBM sound. With the root fundamentals secure (i.e. ugly, dissonant riffs, paired with an even more desolate atmosphere), the band paints quite the bleak picture of the course of sevensongs. And thankfully, no odes to nature were spewed forth. Had just about enough of that stuff for 2011…

Campfire black metal this is not, as The Obsidian Plains takes an angle that reflects on urban blight and sheer darkness, which makes sense given how grueling the front portion of the album is. But nestled in between grizzled and frayed chord movements are some bouncy rock movements, as heard on opener “The Gleaming” and the excellent “Writhe,” which really kicks it from the 1:50 mark and beyond. It’s perhaps the album’s most throttling and enjoyable moment.

As the album progresses, things become even more gnarled and mashed, with “Bones of the Pious” raging forward with a segment of rollicking riffs, while “Ghosts In the Water” is one of the few moments where the band drops back into doom-ville. Beyond that, “Shadowhorn” volleys between ominous chants and a primal BM assault, and “A Defiled Aesthetic” clocks in with the album’s dreariest moment at the tail-end.

Accordingly, no USBM band is totally “one size fits all,” but Wolvhammer come damn near close on The Obsidian Plains. As every bit as atmospherically intimidating and listenable as their Norwegian contemporaries, Wolvhammer could be one of the few bands in North America to break the spell cast by tree-hugging black metal bands, bands that at this point, we have a love/hate relationship with. As for Wolvhammer, they have nothing but love from Blistering.

www.myspace.com/wolvhammer

(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)