The moment you hit the play button on this release, you’ll find the band’s prior work experience hasn’t quite been left at the door of their practice space. Almost immediately you are greeted with a sensation of cold, dark, and melodic groups of the genre. “Gedeih und Verderb”, however, plays off the burdening introduction of “Via Lustorum” in more of a Cradle of Filth manner. Many of the leads create a similar gothic vibe, as do the additional operatic vocal effects that appear in the background at its most robust. But then you get emotional performances like “Schwarzes Firmament”, shifting to more of a depressing black metal approach that paints a gloriously beautiful, yet ultimately tragic landscape before your very eyes.
But that’s not all the influence that can be felt on this release. While fairly minimal, “Schwarzes Firmament” does carry a subtle Dark Funeral presence, something that “Grau wird Nebel” glorifies itself with. This far harsher performance relies more on moody hooks in the guitars to weave a heated, mystical environment with an uncompromising attitude. Meanwhile there’s “VobisCum”, which starts off pretty damn abrasive. Much like a Naglfar track, this one throws disgustingly eerie melodies above blistering blast beats in between bouts of cryptic doom metal grade crawling with the aforementioned operatic background vocals coming back into play. This time, however, they are joined with the chiming of a church bell once in a while. The only gripe to the performance would be the sudden momentary stops to the guitars about two-and-a-half minutes in that does abruptly halt their dominance in their mix.
However, as you progress through Deus Vult, that grand folk and viking tone you’d find on an Equilibrium album remains and amplifies the mood of the crisp, modern sounding recording. The problem is that this unshakeable influence does start to erode at the classic black metal style in favor of a more epic one that doesn’t always fit. Such is the case with the title track of the album. “Deus Vult” starts of slow and plodding, as if channeling a doom metal funeral procession in the rain that, by fifty seconds in, suddenly changes to something full of choir chants that rub you like a mild mixture of later Manowar and Tyr.
Deus Vult is a surprising little gem that is just dripping with melodic and atmospheric black metal beauty through and through. With the exception of the title track seeming out-of-place compared to the rest of the dark and rain-soaked landscapes that lay before you, Wolves Den have woven a solid throwback to the glory days of the style’s melodic boom, complete with traces of modern blackened influence and subtle reminders of the member’s heritage. In time, Wolves Den will surely continue to mature their sound, but for now, Deus Vult is still a pretty strong debut offering well worth checking out.