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A solid debut but Realm of Wolves need more originality - 68%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, January 8th, 2019

Some BM band names look so obvious when you come across them for the first time that you wonder why no-one thought of using them ages ago and the name "Realm of Wolves" falls fair and square into this category. This particular pack of canines formed in Hungary in 2018, and already (and not for the first time for a new band!) I'm familiar with previous work from a member of theirs, in this case vocalist / drummer vvildr, who also helms a solo project called Vvilderness whose debut album I reviewed some time ago. Vvilderness is an atmospheric post-BM project that sometimes inclines towards a meditative attitude so I was expecting something similar here. There is indeed plenty of mood (of the very moody sort) and harsh post-BM here, with a major emphasis on catchy, thrilling tremolo-guitar melodies and long stretches of instrumental music in the songs.

The band pays its respects to Cascadian atmospheric post-rock or post-BM bands like Wolves In The Throne Room with opening track "Cascadia", a suitably cold and chilly that erupts into a slow-burning instrumental steamer, at once aggressive and yet contemplative in parts. The album proper starts with "Ignifer", a much more belligerent track on the attack with rapid-fire guitar work and machine-gun synth percussion topped off with vvildr's growl (admittedly the weakest element in RoW's arsenal: it does not vary much beyond a raspy chant). The band coasts along with this and the next track "Old Roots" with melodic BM aggression that features a lot of shrill guitar riffs, occasional meaty rhythms chunks and brief moments of solo string introspection. So far, so good but nothing much out of the ordinary for this type of fusion BM.

It's not until we reach "Translucent Stones" that RoW show that their shadow meditative melodic folk acoustic-guitar side is more substantial and serious to the point of their being able to write and perform entire instrumental tracks that sustain a particular mood or emotion throughout, than what we have heard so far. This side of the band colours much of the rest of the album, the remaining songs retaining that shade of melancholy even when they are at their most aggressive and determined. The last couple of tracks on the album are long and epic, and bring something extra to the album. "Into the Woods of Oblivion" boasts some creative guitar melodies and riffs all the way through but just when you think the band is going to take the music to another, more insane level, the guys dive into a brief atmospheric introspective session and end up having to recover lost intensity and momentum in the next bout of spitfire guitar attack. Curiously, some of the music here reminds me of French BM band Epheles to the point where I really start believing this band must have been an influence on RoW. Outro track "Northern Wind" has a sorrowful feeling, an air of finality, resignation and acceptance of fate consistent with the lyrical subject matter as it rolls on.

On the whole, this debut boasts solid work, especially in its melodies and riffing, but songs tend to be much the same in the way they veer from intense aggression to gentle melodic folk and back with the result that the music gives the impression of holding back and staying within its comfort zone just at the moment when the band should be leaping defiantly into an abyss and the music becoming transformed into something that would hold listeners spellbound. Because the album under review is a first work, I'll accept that maybe RoW want to play a bit safe and establish their style and approach first to attract listeners and maybe labels, but on their second album, they'll need to produce a work that has more originality and which sounds less generically atmospheric post-BM.