Whoredom Rife – Winds of Wrath Review

Let me start off on the right foot with some honesty: I had, for the longest time, no idea what to say about the latest Whoredom Rife record. If it was a boring record, I’d call it Boredom Rife and be proud of that pun, but I can’t in any honesty do that. Winds of Wrath isn’t a boring record. It isn’t a great one either. It is a competently written and played black metal record that does nothing you haven’t heard before, nothing you’d truly clamor to hear, but also certainly nothing you’d want to avoid hearing either.

Whoredom Rife plays black metal in a style that epitomizes the phrase “middle of the road” and could be represented adequately by a corpse-painted Goldilocks. Do you like the more aggressive stylings of black metal? Whoredom Rife is aggressive enough, but nowhere near the barrage of Panzer Division Marduk. Do you like the more melodic stylings of black metal? Whoredom Rife is melodic enough, but they’re not writing Dissection material. The production is oddly pleasant, a fairly dynamic affair that sounds like it had some budgetary weight behind it. This helps us hear the performances of the band, which are universally above average. Winds of Wrath is a shining example of the modern take on second-wave black metal. This is both to its credit and its detriment.

“A Thousand Graves Endured” is a good example of this approach working well for Whoredom Rife. It’s possessed of the incendiary riffing of the last Mayhem record, and the lead uses a subtle string bend extremely well to create unease. There’s the odd trem-picked run which could be described as “Norsecore” but Whoredom Rife play with enough conviction to avoid falling into the trap entirely. When they settle back into the more incendiary style, the lead guitar creates a slight feeling of unease which serves the song well. The drums wisely take a blast-heavy approach and avoid the spotlight, turning the listener’s focus towards the riffs and melodies.

There are other quality moments scattered throughout Winds of Wrath. The midsection of “Hav av Skydoms Blod” has a killer second-wave riff akin to something from Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk and rides it out effectively. It’s let down a bit by its main riff, which starts off strong for a couple of bars but Whoredom Rife takes it in a lackluster direction thereafter – Emperor didn’t have that problem. The song is also a bit long in the tooth, overstaying its welcome by almost one minute. The title track reminds me a lot of Emperor with its melodies and present keys but doesn’t embrace the overt melodicism of Emperor – this is the other side of the coin I referenced above. It’s not quite melodic enough to be felt in the listener’s gut, nor is it aggressive enough to drive adrenaline. Instead, it exists somewhere in a frozen uncanny valley, being good but not demanding attention or replays.

Ultimately, the title track serves as a microcosm of how I regard Winds of Wrath as a whole. It’s not a future classic to my ears, but it’s more than serviceable and enjoyable for what it’s trying to do, which is be relatively accessible but not commercial black metal. I’ll forever defend average albums – I own enough of them myself – because they tend to contain enough good material to make them politely ask for instead of demand replays, and some idiosyncrasy draws the listener back to it now and again instead of the classics. The idiosyncrasy here is that Winds of Wrath contains no substantive hurdles for the listener versed in black metal to overcome to enjoy it. “Einride” is illustrative: its main melodies invoke Burzum and Gorgoroth, but present the listener none of the experimentation, stumbling blocks, or truly unique elements those bands possess. Nevertheless, I was compelled to return to Winds of Wrath time and again to try and unlock more of its secrets, and perhaps I will unlock more in the future. For now, I can confidently say that this is a good black metal record, and those who want something more immediately straightforward from black metal without extra-genre infiltration, deliberate and sometimes hackneyed rawness, or arbitrary experimentation would do well to give this a spin.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Terratur Possessions
Websites: whoredomrife.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/Dommedagsryttere
Releases Worldwide: November 25, 2021

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