Wan: Wolves of the North

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Wan: Wolves of the North
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Wan: Wolves of the North
Black Metal
Self-release, Abyss Records
March 22nd, 2010
Release length: 35:52
Myspace
Wan is a band that pretty much came out of nowhere, but wasn’t really one that was too deep in obscurity. This Swedish Black Metal act formed in 2009, and within the rear bring us their debut full-lengt album, Woles of the North. While this is a simpler interpretation of earlier second wave Black Metal and draws insppiration from many established acts, the music here varies between ambitious and full of promise, as well as amateurish and comes off as filler. However, there’s still a good amount of solid song writing for the Black Metal fan who just wants to kick back with an album that you don’t truly have to lose yourself in to enjoy.The material that Wan presents on Wolves of the North really isn’t anything all that new, or even all that impressive. However, what it lacks sorely in originallity, the band makes up for in solid recordings. The production on this release is rather on the raw side, but in a much more positive way then some of the less higher end recording qualities that Black Metal acts have been churning out. In fact, this works very well to capture the essence of the album, focusing on a rather heavy, downtuned sound with a strong presence from the bass, all working well with the more gutteral vocal presentation of the release then your generic higher rhaspier wail. The drums on this release sound really full, and in the end the album manages too pull a great deal of influence from such acts as Hellhammer, but still manage to keep a somewhat different approach to the music. This atmosphere works out fantastic for the start of the album and really works out well to create a dark and cold sounding band that clearly just went into this to write heavy, driving Black Metal the way they want, and for the most part it really makes some enjoyable material. However, when you hit the song “Kingdom of Wan”, things start to get a bit side tracked.The first three songs on Wolves of the North are hard hitting, accessible, and simple Black Metal for fans who just want to listen to some solid music without overproduction, or extreme underproduction, hidden references, etc., and give off a musical presence that goes perfectly with the cheesy, amateurish artwork that one would expect to see on early second wave Black Metal albums on more underground labels, such as the artwork on earlier Belmez albus, or even hand drawn cover art for earlier Thrash recordings. Either way, the momentum of the album really shifts at “Kingdom of Wan” due to the sudden snap in musical approach and recording quality. This song, and many that follow, shift to a mudch higher pitched quality instead of having a deeper sound that you were introduced to. Even the vocals hop onto the generic train for no reason and go from gutteral to mainly wailing, plus the audio levels just don’t quite sync up either when jumping from “Död Kroistem Man” and into “Kingdom of Wan”. On top of this, the material goes from just being solid, to often solidly borng and stereotypical with the following track “Wargoat”, which is a song that goes on for over 5 minutes, the longest track on here that shows some severe second wave worship such as with bands like slower paced Darkthrone, especially as you round the home stretch of the song and it just becomes heavily repetitive, and highly redundant. This is also where these shenanigans cut out, but yet continue.The audio quality does shift back to the deeper, rich style that started the album off after “Wargoat”, which is great and really brings the enjoyment level of the album back up to solid, raw but rich recordings once more. The problem is that some of the closing songs just aren’t all that great. “Med Stormsteg Mot Doden”, for example, is one of the stronger songs to close out the release, and one of the few songs on here that really brings in a Bathory feel to the release. This song is fast, heavy, and stands out not just in the fact of intensity and how enjoyable it comes down to, but also because it kind of conflicts with the rest of the release musically. Even the following “Rapid Satan”, the shortes song on here, which clocks in under a minute, is a strong track that will grab the listener’s attention by the balls, leaving you only wishing the band had focused on turning this song into a full-length track by another minute and a half at least. This is especially off when you’re coming off the slower paced “War of the Unholy” which is just dreadful and actually has guitars that sound like they were performed by an amateur throughout, clashing completely with the rest of the song to make you want to scramble for the skip button.Wolves of the North isn’t the most impressive Black Metal album you’ll ever hear, but it’s also not one of the worst. Wan present some solid, simple musicianship to create songs that are enjoyable when you don’t want to be on your toes with sheer intensity or hidden aspects and just want to kick back to a grim feeling album. Sure it has it’s moments throughout that will leave you wondering why the band went the rought they did, such as the sudden jerk of recording quality and compositions through the album, and the amateurish guitar work on “War of the Unholy”, but that doesn’t make this release a terrible one. If you walk into this album knowing what to experience, which is a decent album that shows some potential from this band, then you’ll wind up getting a good aount of replay from it. Just don’t go into this expecting the latest Watain album or anything, as you will be sorely displeased and probabloy scorn Wan before allowing them to show you what they bring to the table.
01. 13 Sons of the Devil – 2:06
02. Hädanfärd – 2:47
03. D̦d Kroistem Man Р1:51
04. Kingdom of Wan – 2:26
05. Wargoat – 5:07
06. Ursinnets Begär – 2:55
07. Ulvhäll – 3:25
08. Bortgang – 2:20
09. War of the Uholy – 3:13
10. Med Stormsteg Mot D̦den Р2:26
11. Rapid Satan – 0:50
12. Rise of the Antichrist – 3:31
13. Wolves of the North – 2:55
Overall Score: 5/10
Wan (Band)
Wan (Logo)
Digital review copy of this release provided by Abyss Records via Clawhammer PR.