Realm of Wolves

I've picked up this album out of the promo bin after I found out that […]
By Martin Knap
December 31, 2018
Realm of Wolves - Oblivion album cover

I've picked up this album out of the promo bin after I found out that it's - in contemporary parlance - "blowing up" on a YouTube channel dedicated to promoting Black Metal. I'm always down for epic, folksy, atmospheric Metal sprinkled with some Black Metal riffs and a blast beat here and there and I figured that REALM OF WOLVES, a newly formed three-piece band from Hungary, must be doing something right if they're getting so much attention. Attention does not, of course, guarantee high quality - sometimes it seems that there is a negative correlation, judging from what gets attention these days - but the fact that it is popular among a certain kind of listeners sparked my curiosity.

REALM OF WOLVES clearly share affinity with Atmospheric Black Metal bands like AGALLOCH or WOLVES OF THE THRONE ROOM (or the whole Cascadian Black Metal movement) but they are also rightly put into the Post-Black Metal niche - the emotional intensity typical for the genre is there, as are some of the songwriting approaches. If you didn't guess where REALM OF WOLVES draw their inspiration from, the title of the first song - "Cascadia" - makes it amply clear. This instrumental piece opens, like many songs on the album, with a mellow, emotional intro that gives way to melodic, folky riffs, ethereal, emotional lead melodies and tension-building drumming that together create music with an epic, majestic atmosphere.

Besides the epic folky vibes and weepy melodies more sinister Black Metal passages appear in the compositions - if it wasn't for them there wouldn't be very much "blackness" in their Metal. The song "Old Roots" gradually builds up to a climactic moment with blast beats and screamed vocals before mellowing out again. This song is followed by a an instrumental "Translucent Stones" with very pretty, weepy melodies. Fourth song "Twelve Miles To Live" is maybe the catchiest here.  The song shifts between an epic, catchy folky riff and harsher passages; there are beautiful lead guitar melodies, and I also dig the staccato grooves that the rhythm guitarist plays at one point.

"Twelve Miles To Live", a comparably short song on this album, is followed by the more then nine minutes long "Into the Woods of Oblivion". The song transitions between harsh an melodic, and it has good moments, but I feel like some of the weaknesses of REALM OF WOLVES's songwriting come to the fore: I feel like although separate parts of the song are nice and even catchy, there is not much of a buildup towards a climax and that the song is just meandering. Instead of a climactic finish we hear a repetition of a previous passage, which sounds a bit underwhelming. Especially the drummer could take it up a notch in some parts (HARAKIRI FOR THE SKY brought in the DECAPITATED and SEPTIC FLESH drummer to record drum tracks on their latest album.  I understand that it's hard to compete with that...) and the vocals could also be more forceful at certain points.

The sometimes unfocused songwriting would be my biggest criticism towards "Oblivion." REALM OF WOLVES can write very catchy riffs and melodies, but they don't necessarily make songs that are greater than the sum of its parts. That being said, there is a lot to like on the album, especially if you like the epic, majestic vibe of Atmospheric Black Metal and the melancholia of bands like INSOMNIUM. REALM OF WOLVES were only formed in 2018 and this is a very good debut. This band has a big potential, and I'll be keeping an eye on them.

7 / 10









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"Obilvion" Track-listing:

1. Cascadia
2. Ignifer
3. Old Roots
4. Translucent Stones
5. Twelve Miles to Live
6. Into the Woods of Oblivion
7. Northern Wind

Realm of Wolves Lineup:

Ghöul - Bass
Stvannyr - Guitars
Vvildr - Vocals, Drums

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