Wervolf – The Aryan Northland

Wervolf really is a band that I should dislike greatly, what with the nine (!) tiny CDr release that sole member Frost Ruebenstahl has churned out this year alone, but I just can’t. For all the hand-made paper sleeves, self-made basement recordings, and neverending barrages of releases, Wervolf actually manages to be a really, really good band, even though it fulfills every stereotype of bedroom BM known to man. Half of it probably has to do with how Frost avoids all the generic pitfalls of one-man black metal: overly raw LLN worship, dumb suicidal black metal, gay attempts at black/noise, etc. The other half is that he’s actually a surprisingly good songwriter who manages to play a style of black metal that’s unique despite its familiarity to the average metalhead.

This two-track single showcases Wevolf’s style of black metal pretty damned perfectly. The whole thing about Wervolf is that the music is about as stationed in the ’70s and ’80s as it is in the ’90s, so while there’s a lot of oldschool Norwegian black metal feel to them, there’s almost as much NWOBHM and traditional heavy and speed metal as well. In fact, the title track feels like ‘Nemesis Divina’-era Satyricon meets early Immortal in an alley and teams up to have a streetfight with Deep Purple and Rush. You’ve got the traditional yet incredibly melodic riffing of early Norwegian black metal, but with an extra edge of traditional melody right out of a Mercyful Fate album in the form of rich, expressive leads (especially those sweeps at the end, holy shit!) which add an entirely new, and dare I say, beautiful, dimension to the music. The first side of this CDr is awesome in every way: the drum machine is effective yet never in the forefront of the music, the riffs are all truly excellent and traditional while still being unique, and the echoing vocals are extremely evocative and powerful. The delicately employed lead guitar in the middle section of the song, with its minimalist held notes, is incredibly effective despite how small an element it is, and overall, the song is an absolute triumph and a testament to what one guy in his basement can do with a few truly quality ideas. The second side, ‘Unholy Night Of Rape’, is also good, but is pretty clearly a b-side. This song moves in a less melodic, more misanthropic and straightforward black metal dimension, and though it possesses many of the qualities that make the first track so great, it still pales in comparison to that track. Just a matter of placement, really.

Frost is actually a really, really good guitarist on top of being a songwriter, and his skill on the instrument adds a layer of sophistication to the music. This doesn’t mean he’s not willing to back off of the technicality where necessary: instead, he knows how to properly juxtapose simple yet expressive riffs with elaborate, overblown soloing so as to create a very unique and awesome atmosphere. Really, once you get past the aesthetic of a release like this, you’ll be really amazed by the quality of the material that you find within. I’ve gone on long enough about these two songs, so I’ll simply end this by saying that Wervolf is consistently a much better band than you would expect, and that those interested in a uniquely oldschool perspective on black metal would be highly encouraged to give his material a listen. You can’t go wrong with stuff like this.

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~ by noktorn on November 25, 2007.

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