Reviewed: June 2020
Released: 2020, Ripple Music
Reviewer: Kieron Hayes
Do you like the classic sound of the early albums of The Sword or Mastodon? Then Wolftooth have got you covered!
That sound much more dismissive than it’s intended to, though the score given should help offset that. Wolftooth’s latest album Valhalla might sound very similar to some other bands (or at least periods of their careers), but that isn’t to say it’s unwelcome. Their style has more than enough gusto and heavy metal charm to keep it fun however recognisable it might be.
Their bio mentions drawing on influences from NWOBHM, Bay Area thrash and old school doom, and certainly that wide range can be heard. At the core it’s a traditional heavy metal/stoner metal mix, with the bright vibrancy of the former and the crunch of the latter, but elements of others like the aforementioned thrash can be heard in there too (especially if you listened to King Gizzard’s thrash forays last year). There’s a decent bit of variety on Valhalla, though it remains consistent. Not every song does something wildly different, but they aren’t afraid to draw on bits and pieces from a wide spectrum of metal music. The album can speed things up, slow down, rock a solid groove or bash your skull in, and knows when to do them all.
Songs like “Fear For Eternity” and “The Coven” really slap you with solid riffing right out of the gate, getting their heads down for some serious banging. These two are also some that most call to mind comparisons to others, immediately reminding you of the likes of Mastodon’s “Blood and Thunder” or The Sword’s “The Black River” with their drive and vigour. “Firebreather” and “Crying of the Wolves” still have plenty of punch to them, but show a bit more of a hard rocking side to the band, as does the rising build and southern rock swagger of “Junaeu”. “Scylla & Charybdis” is a solid favourite amid a sea of good songs, pounding along briskly until the closing third before it takes off into high gear.
In truth, there isn’t really a dud to be found here. Some tracks might venture a little too close to familiar territory for some, but a good time is a good time. Hop on the pegasus and ride off into these wailing, roaring, riff-heavy tales with Wolftooth.