Crust punk is an interesting beast. Stylistically speaking, its bludgeoning, relentless nature is closer to metal than perhaps any other style of punk, but only a handful of metal acts have dabbled in the genre. Vhol and modern Darkthrone have made admirable attempts at bringing crust to the metal masses, but ultimately the genre has flown under the radar of most fans. Sweden’s Wolfbrigade (formerly Wolfpack) attempted to meet metal fans halfway five years ago with Damned, a fantastic metallic crust album that was borderline revolutionary considering the stalwart nature of crust punk. It failed to grab the attention of the scene despite notable black and death metal influence, but the band spent five years gearing up for a second attack. So much time spent refining less than thirty minutes of music should have resulted in a killer product, yet Run With the Hunted, Wolfbrigade‘s second album through Southern Lord, feels like a decidedly lesser effort.

If you’ve already discovered and enjoyed Damned, you should find Run With the Hunted similarly up your alley, if not quite as far. This is still Wolfbrigade experimenting with injecting metal into their decades-old, d-beat driven formula, and in some instances the metal influences here seem even more overt. The central riff of “Lucid Monomania” is essentially straight thrash, “No Reward” is laced with melodic riffs from the school ov Dissection, and “Kallocain” is bookended by a total earworm of a pagan metal lead guitar line. What I believe makes this record even more appealing, though, is Wolfbrigade‘s unflinching attitude, a simultaneous embracing of both the heaviness and dark melody of metal and the limited playbook by which crust lives and dies. Even on RWtH’s back half, which mostly drops the metal influence, the band’s metallic spirit is still tangible, perceivable through a scattered selection of blackened melodies and riffs. It’s great to hear that Wolfbrigade‘s experimental spirit is still alive and well.

What’s definitely not great to hear is Run With the Hunted’s sound. While far from dynamic, Damned had a monstrously hard hitting production that emphasized the record’s low end, sounding more like a Swedeath release than a crust album. With RWtH, all of the components sound flat and colorless, and they all run together into one big noise puddle. This is one of the most boring mixes I’ve heard so far this year, and the utterly obscured bass and godawful drum sound only amplify my frustration. The drums sound completely artificial, with the snare and bass drum in particular sounding empty and clicky to the point of being almost identical to each other. To make matters worse, any guitar layering essentially slumps together, nearly invalidating some great guitar lines that should have been the highlights of their respective tracks. Somehow, the production gives the impression that it’s not just poor, but also unfinished.

If there’s any other disappointing factor on Run With the Hunted, it’s that it never seems quite as successful as Wolfbrigade’s prior album at branching out from plodding D-Beats. Sure, I love the intro and outro of “Kallocain,” but its midsection plays it safe when it could have taken a few more experimental steps to create the album’s standout track. As it stands, there’s no highlight on the level of Damned’s monumental “Ride the Steel.” While all of the songs are good, the record is almost too consistent, in that it could have benefited from a couple of standouts to give it more shape and personality. Wolfbrigade’s melodic sensibilities, though, are still very much intact. If you’ve never listened to one of the band’s albums before, certain lead guitar melodies may surprise you; the best ones, especially on “Dead Cold,” straddle the divide between mournful and uplifting, occasionally crafting moments similar to last year’s highly emotive (and excellent) Morrow record.

Run With the Hunted is far from a bad album, and Wolfbrigade still sounds like Wolfbrigade. Yet while half a decade spent waiting for new material should have resulted in Damned 2.0, it plays more like Damned 0.5, not quite touching that album from a songwriting standpoint and plagued by ludicrous production decisions. Fans of the band’s past work will find a lot to like here if they can look past the mixing issues, but I doubt this album will win them many new fans, or new converts from the metal community.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Southern Lord
Websites: wolfbrigadeofficial.com | facebook.com/lycanthropunks
Releases Worldwide: April 28th, 2017

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  • You wot m8?

    Wait… Darkthrone is crust now?

    Are there any genres that they have yet to explore?

  • herrschobel

    no matter how good or bad this album is, Wolfbrigade is one hell of a live band…so just check them out if you ever have the chance !

  • Metrognome26

    Damned was my first exposure to Wolfbrigade, but I actually like this one a lot more. Oddly enough, the production difference that the reviewer dislikes is what works for my ears. I thought that the parts were a little less muddy sounding on RWTH, but maybe that’s just me.

  • Motörhead meets High on fire, with a dash of black metal. Somehow not as good as that description makes it sound,

  • Kevlardickus

    Check the Wolfpack-albums, that some real stuff right there. Damned was a fine effort, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the Wolfpack-era.

    • DrChocolate

      This guy gets it.

    • Metrognome26

      I like Damned and flat out love RWTH. Are there any dodgy albums to avoid in their discography? I need more Wolfbrigade/pack in my life.

      • Kevlardickus

        Not really. All 3 Wolfpack-albums are classics. From Wolfbrigade, I’d say Progression/Regression and Comalive are the weakest, so explore them last. Anything else, just dive in.

  • DrChocolate

    Imma go ahead and agree to disagree. Going back to ‘Lycanthro Punk’ and ‘Allday Hell’ Wolfbrigade/pack has always had a rusty razor metal edge, long before ‘Damned’ was release. Maybe it’s me, but I think saying ‘RwtH’ isn’t quite ‘Damned’ about a half dozen times is frightfully shortsighted and undersells the quality of the record.

    • Eldritch Elitist

      In retrospect I agree that I mentioned Damned too much as a reference point. I’m only overly familiar with Wolfbrigade post-name change, and I absolutely love that album, which sort of limited what I had to work with. That being said, this was one of three albums I reviewed in the past week, so I didn’t exactly have the time to delve into their extensive back catalog.

      Also, you seem to have the impression that I think this album is “bad” because I don’t like it as much as Damned, and that’s really not the case. My main sticking point here is absolutely the production, which brought the score down quite a bit. I just can’t stand this album’s sound, though as others have mentioned in these comments and elsewhere, that’s certainly not a unanimous opinion. Musically, I think this is only a short step or two below Damned.

      You might be interested in reading my next review; I actually touch on the subject of albums serving as stand-alone products and how, in some cases, specific albums can become more relevant when placed into context with the releases that surround them. The process of writing this review may or may not have inspired that passage.

      • DrChocolate

        A) I’m really excited for your next review. The topic of if albums should be viewed alone or versus the back catalog is really interesting.
        B) I didn’t mean to sound overly disparaging either, your review was still very fair and well written. I probably could’ve used a deep breath and reread my comment before posting.
        C) The production is sort of tricky for me. ‘Damned’ certainly was punchier and more open, which is generally better. However, I kind of like the production here too. I sorta like my D-Beat with that staticky, cement mixer scrape to it. So here’s my totally contradictory statement…I probably like that sound because it reminds me of the earlier ‘Wolfpack’ branded records which I adore and were my first exposure to my the band.

        • Eldritch Elitist

          Shit, I just now saw your response. Don’t worry about sounding “disparaging” – you introduced a valid criticism, and as such I think you’ve impacted my writing for the better.

          Anyway, I’m going to come back to this album in a few months – all of the comments here from people who prefer Run With the Hunted over Damned are legitimately intriguing, and I’m starting to wonder if I’m missing something here.

  • Nola Trash Talk

    I don’t get crust punk tags on bands. This is fucking metal to me. It will be on my metal year-end lists.

  • Bas

    this sounds cool, another thing i need to check out..
    thanks for name dropping Morrow (I missed that one).

    • Eldritch Elitist

      That was an instant purchase for me and it snagged my number five spot last year. Hope you dig it!

  • contenderizer

    TRAGEDY

  • Artūras Artūras

    its another wolfbrigade album, gonna be very enjoyable for some time. they did fuck up the production though, but you can get used to it very fast. good riffs. short and fast easy listening experience. i would say week or two.