Wolf King – Loyal To The Soil

Rating: 3/5
Distributor/label: Prosthetic Records
Released: 27/04/18
Buy Album: https://wolfking.bandcamp.com/album/loyal-to-the-soil
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/wolfkinghc

BAND LINE-UP:

Tim Wilson – Vocals,
Jake Broughton – Guitar,
Connor White – Drums,
Brian Mojica – Bass.

TRACKLISTING:

1. Hail the Ash
2. Further
3. Loyal To The Soil I
4. Loyal To The Soil II
5. Sorrow’s Reach
6. Worthy Of The Dead
7. Greater Power
8. Betrayer
9. Mortals I
10. Mortals II
11. Shepherd Of The Flock

REVIEW

We all know hardcore, right? Loud, proud, abrasive as a cheese grater to the face? You know the sort; it inspires the sort of dancing that wouldn’t look out of place in a martial arts film (if the martial artists sported all the grace, poise and presence of late twenty-something cutting loose on three pints of Special Brew). Well today, we have a new king for you to bow down and worship. A WOLF KING, no less.

The Bay Area bruisers certainly know a thing or two about appealing to the hardcore dancing crowd, as “Loyal To The Soil” is everything they could want. Front to back, it sports some utterly nasty riffs and unrelenting screaming that is akin to being held up by the throat and read the riot act. The opening strains of “Hail The Ash” set the early pace, with ominous ringing guitar before letting fly into a set of flying riffs atop blast beats. Throw in some grooves here and there, and you’ve the WOLF KING sound right there.

In fact, the groove laid down in “Loyal To The Soil I” is absolutely filthy. There’s nothing particularly complex about it but, heaven above, does it make you want to headbang and throw some shapes. With such an uncompromising and unforgiving sound, “Loyal To The Soil” as an album is all about picking out these little moments of joy. The stomp of “Betrayer” is an absolute pit-starter (or stirrer if, as is probable, the pit is already in full swing), whilst the double-whammy “Mortals” brings a touch of light-and-shade to the fold with its quiet-loud combo. Closer “Shepherd Of The Flock” bookends the album with a call back to the album’s opening, ensuring the album could feasibly be put on repeat ad infinitum.

Whilst that will no doubt please a number of people, the slight drawback to the album is, strangely, it’s unending abandon. Save for the aforementioned “Mortals” double-header, there’s very little respite afforded. Brutality is the name of the game and it can be a little exhausting – “Loyal To The Soil” requires listening to with a certain level of concentration, lest you lose where you are across the album. Whilst patently a hardcore band, WOLF KING have been referred to as blackened hardcore, and there are certainly elements of black metal’s sound that filter through. The furiously fast riffs, blast beats, threatening atmosphere and unforgiving nature all elevate the standard hardcore sound up a notch, but it doesn’t aid the flow all that much. Not that there is much of a “flow” per se; more like a water cannon to the face for the best part of an hour…

With that being said, the production is ace. Crisp, punchy where needed and with careful consideration to dynamics (that is to say, not slamming it so loud it distorts). There’s room for every instrument to breathe and it generates a lovely live and energetic feel. It’ll certainly please the hardcore dancers as you can’t get closer to a live representation of WOLF KING (save for a gig or live album, of course). Mercifully, they eschewed the traditional black metal production where everything sounds like it was recorded on an industrial site through a telephone, and it’s all the better for it. Not to mention the fact it brings out the band’s individual performances – you’re proud of your music, so why hide your talent behind a recording that sounds like arse?

WOLF KING’s debut will, without doubt, go down like a treat live. It’s inexorable nature melds the kindred spirits in hardcore and black metal together, resulting in a frothing, rabid album that shall set the up very nicely for the future ahead. With a considerably grounded feel about it, “Loyal To The Soil” is the sort of debut many a band would dream of. But for a little more flow and variation, we’d be looking at a perfect first bow. Nevertheless, the band have made a strong claim to the hardcore throne – and not merely because the wolf is royalty.

REVIEW BY LEE CARTER
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