Even before you hear the first note of The Cord That Ends The Pain, you will be clear that this debut album from Wolves In Winter isn’t going to be upbeat and jolly. Christ, there can’t be a much more miserable song title than that, can there? Welcome to Wolves in Winter.
Wolves In Winter – The Calling Quiet (Argonauta Records)
Release Date: 24 February 2023
Words: Paul Hutchings
Formed in 2020, this isn’t a fresh-faced youthful outfit, no sir. Thirty years of gnarly, heavy music behind them, with the likes of Slammer, Solstice, Lazarus Blackstar and Monolith Cult and Iron Rat, amongst current and former bands. You know this is going to be one heavy mutha of a ride.
Six songs spread over 41 minutes confirms this. It’s a sprawling, thick riffed journey that veers between doom and sludge. Cord That Ends The Pain is the ideal opener if such a thing exists on an album of such darkness. Misery and cold eke out of the speakers, and the song moves slowly, like a slowly enveloping cloud.
The tempo isn’t just gargantuan riffing, though, as the band infuse melody throughout. Vocalist Jake brings a melancholic style not dissimilar to Chris Cornell at times. And that’s a compliment, as his delivery is one of many standout features of this release.
Nemesis follows, a slightly slower-paced beast, the change in tempo bringing a different dimension yet retaining every single drop of the atmosphere that the opener generated. Its cleverly constructed, harrowed vocals soar over the concrete-splitting bass, whilst some subtle harmonies work well. It’s one of four songs that last over seven minutes, but that isn’t an issue as the music is absorbing.
It’s easy for bands of this genre to become a little one-dimensional, but Wolves In Winter strip it back on Pastime For Helots, and the opening minute provides temporary respite from the massive sound the band generate. It doesn’t last, though. Wave upon wave of pounding guitar and bass crash down, all challenging and uncomfortable.
This isn’t meant to be an easy listen, after all. It doesn’t get any easier. Promised Harvest is a sharp-edged, awkward, and punishing listen. But it works on every level.
Two songs of equal length finish The Calling Quiet. Oceans is an emotive ride, a rollercoaster which ebbs and flows, reverberating, echoing and thunderous. It’s the pained vocals of Jake that fly high as he wrings out every last drop of his soul into the song.
To conclude, Calling The Quiet takes the sadness even further. There’s a mix of styles contained within this track, and it’s definitely the most delicate of the six. Sweeping soundscapes of passion pour forth relentlessly, the riffs pour down, and then you are left with an emptiness that demands you return to the start and do it all again.
The Calling Quiet is quite the album. Intricate yet also bludgeoning and brutal, it’s a bruising yet sensitive release. Further plays are demanded, each one unlocking further treasures buried deep within. Quite something, indeed.