Today we take a trip back to 1993 when, while I was in 2nd grade listening exclusively to oldies music and getting my video games taken away for uttering vile profanities like “butt” and “fart,” old school death metal was
death ‘n’ rolling along in Scandinavia. It’s a year that saw important releases from Dismember and Entombed, as well as one of OSDM’s more unique offerings, Demilich‘s Nesphite. The latter retains a legendary cvlt status among death metal fans as it was the band’s only full-length release and it featured a bizarre unique musical style and unbelievably low belching vocals. Said vocals were regurgitated forth by one Antti Boman who after Nesphite remained relatively silent in the metal world until he put on the moniker “Abominator” and joined with Corpse of Deathchain1 to release Winterwolf‘s debut in 2009. After a ten year summer, Winterwolf has returned with Lycanthropic Metal of Death, and it channels a bit of each of those landmark albums from 1993.
Hailing from Finland, Winterwolf plays a fairly standard permutation of Swedeath, but they play it really well. Boman and Corpse share guitar duties and Demilich devotees may be disappointed to hear that Boman’s vocals are relegated to a backup role behind lead vocalist Rotten. But fear not! Rotten’s delivery is competent if not earth-shattering, but when combined with Abominator’s cathedral shaking burps, a harmony of delicious disgustingness ensues. Check out the intro of “At Dawn They Eat” to see this technique in action before the song launches into that rumbling buzzsaw death metal that we know and love. With Abominator and Corpse being the Finnish death veterans that they are, it should come as no surprise that Lycanthropic Metal of Death is chock full of tasty riffs.
And those riffs come in a variety pack, keeping things from becoming too homogeneous. “Wolf Finder General” has some tight thrash, “Devouring Entities Devour” swerves into death doom territory with some Sabbathisms, and the straight forward Swedeath of embedded track “Brujo” is sure to please fans of Dismember. “Kadathian Doom” starts with some nasty vocal gargling and doom riffs and then worms its way through an economy-sized assortment of tremolos, doom, thrash, and groove. The groove carries over into “Thisishispit” as Rotten and Abominator vomit all over another collection of great crunches, buzzes, and bounces, and it’s these stellar vocal performances that make the record an enjoyable journey despite the fact that you’ve heard this all before.
But that still doesn’t change the fact that you’ve heard this all before. This has been a really hard album for me to judge. I find myself headbanging and drumming along with each of the nine tracks, but when all is said and done, there’s a good chunk of it that vanishes from memory. There are some great songs on this good album however, with “Brujo,” “Wolf Finder General,” “Kaddathian Doom,” and “Thisishispit” being my personal favorites. The production is stellar, with that delicious guitar tone and enough clarity to make you feel like you could reach out and run your fingers along Boman’s studded leather larynx2. The master is noticeably quieter than most modern metal, and it feels good to be able to really crank this thing up as it rumbles and buzzes along.
Despite not being able to completely rock my world on this one, Winterwolf scheduled a really fun trip back to the early 90’s for those who might be interested in such a thing. Lycanthropic Metal of Death will be enjoyed by fans of Swedish and Finnish OSDM and anyone who misses the unsettling utterances that Boman perfected with Demilich. Now, excuse me while I go ask my mom if I’ve been good enough to play Street FIghter II.