Released: 2010, Wraith Productions
WHEN ABOVE…is Wolfshades third album but only my first experience with them. I must say I am thoroughly impressed. I suppose initial impressions go a long way when discovering new music. With so much material out there sometimes one chance is all a band may get. There are hundreds and hundreds of French Black Metal bands yet somehow, for some reason, those bands always seem to be relegated to the second or third tier. How many can you name compared to the Scandinavian bands? Exactly. I thought so.
Wolfshade is in my mind among one of the better bands in this genre from France that I have heard. Far from being a ‘traditional’ Black Metal band, Wolfshade have many elements going on. The band incorporates some very subtle female vocals, almost spoken similar to what Celtic Frost used to do back in the day. There is a lot of acoustic guitar and ambient soundscapes inter-laced with the harsh vocals. I’m hearing so many good influences on these songs, at one moment they remind me of CLOUDS-era Tiamat and another I’m hearing hints of My Dying Bride. Then I’ll catch something that maybe reminds me of something a little more groovy and doom-ish, like Lake Of Tears for example.
WHEN ABOVE is not a full-bore misanthropic assault on the senses but a far more sinister and insidious proposition, slowly worming it’s way into your brain. After a short, keyboard intro the trio launch into a mid-tempo to slower cut reminiscent of perhaps some Bathory, the blacker eras, not the full-on Viking stuff. The pace never really gets too fast or panicky, but just creeps along melancholic and ominous. The songs really sweep you away and they are long songs. Each cut is over six minutes long and many of the pieces comer across as instrumental. Lyrics and vocals seem almost to be a secondary concern. The very harsh vocals will cut in for a verse or two then drain away for quite a while. There really isn’t a traditional sense of song structure here but the songs flow along dreamily. There are also a few spoken word parts, in French naturally, adding to the mystique of the song. Fans of more aggressive styles of extreme music might even find it dull, especially the extended acoustic tinged passages. I like it personally!
Wolfshade is certainly headphone worthy and perhaps best experienced in a calmer, more reflective mood. It’s easy to get lost in the doomy drone of this excellent record if you have the time and patience to embrace it’s dark tones.