After getting an early listen to Clawing Into Black Sun and doing a little research on Chicago/Minneapolis’ Wolvhammer, I felt a little left out. Their previous two releases had unfortunately gone unnoticed on my part, but it only took one listen to realize what I was missing out on.
Being labeled as a Black Metal band, I had some preconceived notions as to what Wolvhammer would sound like. Through my first pass of the album I discovered they were more dynamic, and frankly more enjoyable. The dark, snarling lyrics fit the bill, but other elements ranged from hardcore to doom to even slightly gothy in places.
Title track “Clawing Into Black Sun” has a big buildup which kept me hooked in early on and a catchy understated chorus before it gets into the meaty, real-deal vocal work. A heavy ending is a perfect lead in to “Slaves To The Grime” which provides a nice groove/hook at the beginning you can settle into. The song moves into a longer, punishing bridge which I felt really hammered home the lyrical content.
“The Desanctification” starts slow and heavy, but hooked me in again with some crisp and (dare I say) softer vocal work. “Lethe” is a great instrumental piece full of doom and gloom and “In Reverence” displays Wolvhammer’s ability to mix in a more hardcore sound and feel while still being every bit brutal.
“Death Division” was one of the more standout tracks for me. It stands strong and chugs along with heavy guitar work including a nice little breakdown/solo midway through. The ending slows things way down and closes out on a slightly haunting note. “A Light That Does Not Yield” is another slowed down track with hints of Converge’s “Wretched World”. It plays out at almost 9 minutes long which worked in the way this song was structured and delivered as the ending track.
Opening track “The Silver Key” fell a little flat and dragged out too long without ever really grabbing my attention, but overall I’m glad I stuck through it to get the albums full experience. While extremely heavy, this album is still digestible enough to put on while working or driving without being too much. There are some interesting ups and downs throughout individual songs, and the album as a whole is dynamic enough to be listened to over and over again.
Now that Wolvhammer finally is on my radar, I’m looking forward to adding them to the collection and watching how their music evolves on future releases.