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Stirring The Cauldron, Howling At The Moon! - 84%

CHAIRTHROWER, June 7th, 2021
Written based on this version: 2021, Digital, Independent

Espousing all manner of schlock lupine terror and mystery is Ottawa's sordidly awoken Lycanthro, a pure wool purveyor of no frills, traditional heavy metal thrills which has recently laid down its long-availed full-length debut, titled Mark of the Wolf, under Greece's Alone Records, itself a meaty market of like-minded ear noshers such as Graven Rite, Molten Chains, Night Fighter and Shadowlynx. This wolfish forty-three minute production assails us with eight widely divergent riff/solo fe(a)sts, for the most part evoking a young and hungry high school metal act beyond mere fame and celebrity aspirations such as Degrassi's Zit Remedy or perhaps even rather lowbrow Löded Diper, from Diary of a Wimpy Kid lore. (In other words, Lycanthro, rhyming as it does with "I can throw", may sound sophomoric, but darn are they good!)

Opener "Crucible", at seven minutes, entails quite a gamble, with its clean and clinical, thirty-second coda followed by Metallica/Slayer styled six-string manoeuvres soon splaying forth along various tangents melding doom-y NWOBHM vibes in vein of Blood Curse, The Heretic Order and (a sadly defunct) Wicked Inquisition to fast and relentless, thrash dominant escapades singularly "marked" by rich, crunchy guitar tone's cloying, hook-driven pull. The leads are often totally feral and unexpected, while retaining a distinctively cold, as well as slightly Kirk Hammett-ish, feel. Four and a half minutes into, eh, "le creuset", the dual axe woodsmen switch to a grinding takeaway section recapping the song's initial hostility and austerity. The battery is never clouded by guitars and vocals; most of the songs - "Mark of the Wolf" proper and "Into Oblivion", in particular - feature many stand-alone breakthroughs, benefiting in turn by a plumply dry, retro production.

The catchier, still adequately extensive "Fallen Angels Prayer" and top anthemic humdinger "In Metal We Trust" both contain ample sing-aloud verses and refrains, while softer, piano laced crooning, at times, comes as a stark, tongue-in-cheek revelation of the pack's lighter, less rowdy, haymaking side. The longer and more intricate "Enchantress" and closer "Evangelion" also have their memorable moments, and although the solos are usually haphazard or all over the place - as opposed to harmonized and twin-turbo sized, Judas Priest style, ferinstance - permit a certain measure of authentic and raw old-schoolness, not to mention nocturnal spontaneity of a 1980s slasher flick mien (somewhat similar to fellow Ontarian gunslinger, Toronto's Ammo). For Lycanthro, Mark of the Wolf is definitely an auspicious start, anyhow.