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Here we have little known Germanic act, Wolfsschrei, on their second full length LP, 'Demons of My Inner Self'. First of all, any of you familiar with my reviews may already know, I highly praise the current German scene for its long line of high caliber musicians who keep the old school black metal vibe very much alive. Second, I want to clearly establish my objectivity, despite this fact, because there are plenty of highly acclaimed Germanic acts that don't particularly rate well on my scale on the other hand (Graupel, Desaster, Imperium Dekadenz, Magog, DNS and Ruins of Beverast to name an offhand few). That said, this shouldn't necessarily taint your objectivity against my tastes either. If you are into those bands, its certainly possible that you won't find my opinions illuminating much, however. Wolfsschrei's band members are quite the prolific artists, with ties to other acts such as Erhabenheit, Odal, Aaskereia, as well as Total Hate and Wolfthorn in the past, it may not come as such a shock that Wolfsschrei produces some fairly competent black metal.
On the surface of things, Demons of My Inner Self represents a rigidly straight forward approach to black metal: fairly quick, but not obscene, blast festivals with epic, melodic guitar playing that focuses on one melancholic, tremolo-plucked riff after another, after another... with plenty of variation in tempo and mood to keep fans satiated throughout. Here, it seems as if Taaken pretty much builds on a relatively cohesive song pattern that, from what I can casually estimate, builds momentum with one melodic riff, into the next, and the next, and finally one more, before the entire thing repeats itself over; obviously this isn't always the case, as the patterns are mixed up and inventive, logical bridges and momentary breakdowns are thrown to extremely positive effect. At times, there doesn't seem to be traditional chorus/verse structures that can be discerned, but clearly this only the case with a few of the tracks, and the provided lyrical sheet with LP only confirms this. The song lengths range from the late 4 minute mark all the way to 8:30, but most reside well within 5-6 minutes.
The writing on this album is nothing short of epic. Deliberate focus on a non-stop assault of melancholic, or otherwise aggressive, thrashing guitar playing blows over the listener like a relentless storm of fury, rendering a devastating effect on one's psyche. This is due, in large part, to the mood that gets kicked up by the torrential downpour of riffs which could best be described as sour, malignant, or almost depressive; this can't be considered "depressive" black metal, however, because there is too much disgust fueling these proceedings. The vocalist, Taaken, makes damn well sure you know, despite a deeply sodden vibe, that there is plenty of life and passion behind these compositions; his deep, snarling, almost bestial delivery ensuring the misanthropic message alone! Also, the supplemental drumming which blasts throughout the majority of the album is so organic and aptly paced, that it lends force to the compositional whole as opposed to outpacing the material or rendering itself synthetic (as with the follow up mcd). It really helps to scribe the tale of a band who is possessed of anger, and a deeper emotional, poetic persuasion... the impetus being to create a feeling of malaise in the listener through the incorporation of dreary instrumentation (which is oft misconstrued). This is, in my mind, clearly from a different perspective than a band which would otherwise make use of all the moody, "tortured" stops to try and ape a sense of "hopelessness", with the ultimate goal of suggesting the band is afflicted with a self-absorbed depression or thoughts of suicide. Taaken, and Wolfsschrei, instead tread a different path. They attempt to bring you along into their haunted world for a glimpse, as opposed to trying to manufacture the best Burzum interpretation while adding elements of funeral doom, shoegaze, emo, or whatever else the hipster, bedroom black metal movement is on about these days. This remains the essential piece of the puzzle which sets Wolfsschrei apart from the world of 'dsbm', which, not surprisingly, some listeners---innocently I imagine, but also ignorantly---seem to attribute to the band.
Another criticism that might be leveled at the band comes from a view that the fundamental basis for their music is too derivative of early 2nd wave works. While I suppose it is inevitable that Wolfsschrei will be perceived this way because the guitar playing is the focal point, the drums blast a lot, and the bass is seemingly non-existent in most respects, I think it is a mistake all too common to the instant gratification generation that currently calls themselves black metal fans. I mean, its true that Demons of My Inner Self doesn't reinvent the wheel, but Wolfsschrei is incorporating disparate elements under the banner of black metal in a way not found convincingly from the few other groups attempting a similar approach. The songs here are very well crafted, and the instrumentation so finely executed that such a blueprint for an album is excusable. Also, it needs to be understood that Wolfsschrei simply uses this m.o. as a vehicle from which to stay firmly rooted in the genre, less they fail to be taken seriously as a black metal band. It is from this vehicle that Taaken and Naudhiz embark on a journey into the mind of malevolence, misanthropy, and complex moroseness and morbidity. Without it, we might as well not be discussing black metal at all then.
Anyway, it also has not escaped my attention that such subtle, sombre nuances rarely seen in raw black metal, or used to achieve entirely different interpretations (such as DSBM as mentioned earlier), might not in of themselves be revolutionary either. But what happens when these things are combined to create an album that perhaps accomplishes to forge an atmosphere that even Varg failed to achieve on the album 'Det Som Engang Var'? Maybe that's close to the heart of what Wolfsschrei was getting at here? Who can truly say... though, I feel it is my duty to make the reader aware of such coincidences like the word Varg, from the old Nordic tongue, translates to "Wolf", and have thus lead me to make such seemingly "wild" associations. If that's simply too vague, or incidental, to be convincing, perhaps the vocal delivery used in the final 2 mins. of the track "Where Dead Bodies Lay" might be more interesting? I won't ruin it for the reader, but one would need to sit through Burzum's 'Det Som Engang Var' to understand what I'm hinting at (those listeners who are long time, stalwart fans of the genre should instantly recognize it, however). Anyway, Wolfsschrei stand on their own merits in spite of such added novelty. Besides that, comparing DSEV with this album isn't really necessary, or accurate from a principle sound standpoint anyway. If anything, DoMIS sounds like Lunar Aurora's cold, wind-blasted opus 'Mond'; the only differences are in a lack of a prominent keyboard usage, and a seemingly more simple, linear approach to the song-writing on the surface of things. The equally long and perhaps more complex passages being a worthy point of distinction in Wolfsschrei's favor, however.
There is no doubt this is an album that will sneak up on you when you're not expecting it. 'Demons of My Inner Self' doesn't divulge all its secrets too soon; as a matter of fact, the slightly muddy, yet thin production quality does its job in sealing the band off from those who aren't worthy. Its pretty obvious from the get go that Wolfsschrei plays incredible black metal, however... even despite the fact that the songs can sound extremely alike, or one dimensional, on initial listen. The truth is that there is more than just your average carbon copy black metal here. The complexity is hidden under layers of filth, and the band's intentions are sometimes mistaken, or simply heard too superficially by even the trained, veteran ear (which too often gets mired down in the muck of innumerable other inferior "black metal" bands, by my estimation). The production quality may be just as much an accomplishment to me as it is a downfall to others, though. I reside in the small group that is not only tolerant of it, but even relish in the fact that it keeps most unworthy, pretentious little snots at bay. DoMIS is simply not a cookie-cutter black metal drama. Due to its veiled complexity, it is not something that is to be digested immediately... only with time, and repeated listens, will more and more glory slowly reveal itself to the listener. To me, that is exponentially more rewarding than an album that plays great at first but eventually gets old and stale with time.
Without question, I can recommend this as a purchase for those of you really into bands like: Eternity (ger), Erhabenheit (ger), Odal (ger), and Christicide (fra), to name a few. Wolfsschrei are worthy of your support and my praise alike... for being another highlight of Teutonic black metal, if nothing else. Though, it's fairly evident they are much more than that.
On the other hand, if you are "jaded" with, or don't consider yourself a fan of, black metal and its countless incantations these days, this is undoubtedly something for you to avoid. I've already made my peace with that fact, and yet, I still believe it earns every percent of the high score I've endowed it.
For their second full-length, Germans Wolfsschrei conjure up a suitably hostile environment of black violence with some glorious riffing and a cold but fulfilling tone. These are no newcomers to the scene, they've been in many other bands like Odal, Seelengrief, and Erhabenheit.
The title track begins with some bass, then the bombast of grinding black guitars and the snarling pitch of Taaken. What I find very satisfying about this band is the fact that almost all the songs have a very glorious, melodic riff in there. With "Demons of My Inner Self" it comes about half way into the track. "Of Hate and Man" is an excellent song, one of the best here, and it doesn't take long before they unleash this amazing, atmospheric riff (it's the second in the song). The rest of the tracks are likewise thrilling, "Penetration of Your Soul" rocks hard from the starting gate. "Your Painful Fate" is lush, driving and beautiful. "Where Dead Bodies Lay" is grim yet glorious.
Wolfsschrei prove here they have what it takes to join the upper crust of German black metal scene. I enjoyed just about every track on this effort. Groundbreaking they are not, but they deliver a quality not so common for this type of raw and straightforward black metal. The songs are more than capable of conveying cold emotions, the futility of hope in a world of despair, the dark comfort of diabolical hatred. It's all here. If you like true black metal, you will lap this up like an open sore on a Christian whore.
I can’t say I’ve heard Wolfsschrei before, but I’ve read their name a few times, probably since the two lads are also involved in tons of other German underground black metal acts (Barastir, Odal, Erhabenheit, Aaskereia etc). So I was certainly curious to see what this was all about. And with an intro building up expectations of misanthropy and anguish I was set for a magnificent experience… Unfortunately the sound quality doesn’t deliver. As soon as the first real riff sets in you’re overwhelmed with just how thin the sound is, it lacks any and all impact. That’s highly unfortunate, ‘cause it’ll probably deter people from really getting into the album.
And if you don’t give "Demons of my inner self" a real chance you’ll miss out on some marvelous riffing. Simply due to the semi-melodic passages in "Of hate and man" it qualifies as my favourite track on here. Well-paced blasting as well as harsh, raspy screams accompanies the riffage, and it kicks ass. The blasting is intertwined with slower sections, where the riffing can really excel. But speaking of the vocals I have to say it gives it all a very rough touch with its harsh-as-hell background gurgle, and it might even come off as ‘raw black metal’. But once again that’s just the sound issue messing with you. Looking past the awful sound you’ll find it’s semi-melodic black metal. I’m impressed at how Wolfsschrei manage to mix melody, old school and roughness. It reminds me a whole lot of the old Swedish act Zavorash, with just a little less misanthropy. Or why not even go for Blodsrit as a comparison.
The record’s only 41 minutes long, but it still feels a bit too long. I’m having a hard time focusing throughout the entire album. And once again I have to blame the production. The guitars sound thin; you can’t even hear the bass and the drums sound like they were across the room from the mics. It’s really too damn bad, ‘cause it almost ruins an otherwise terrific album.
Originally written for http://www.mylastchapter.net