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Wolf Counsel -Vol. I: Wolf Counsel cd


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What do you look for in your traditional Doom? Serious question, and the answer will pretty much determine whether you’re going to get on with Wolf Counsel – obviously, starting by winnowing out the non-Tradsters immediately. For those still here: if it’s something as faithful to the pioneering Proto-Doom/early Doom no-frills templates of Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus and Pentagram as possible, this should be for you. Though a recently-formed band, founder, composer and main musician – playing everything except lead guitar – Ralf Winzer Garcia has already had a career spanning back to the early 90s with Thrash band Curare, and taking in various Death Metal-orientated outfits like Uppercut and (the Swiss) Requiem. Joined by guitarists Tom Kuzmic (from Disparaged, amongst others) and Andreas Reinhart for studio-work, the Zurich-based band is supplemented by Requiem drummer Reto Crola for live shows. After a short intro were taken into the bass-favoring heft of Visions (whose cadence and feel, rather than actual sound, suddenly – and not for the last time – had me thinking of Black Sabbath: on this occasion, a slower Children Of The Sea), and it becomes very clear what this is about. It’s moved by the same spirit that had bands at the end of the 60s searching for the heaviest and most pulverizing sound possible, and it echoes all those periodic re-visitations to the amp-worshiping, unadorned four-piece format along the way since. Listen to the slight overdriven hollowness just before each track cuts to silence, and the occasional rough buzz of distortion to the production: that, right there, is all about going up to 11. With that perspective sorted, Vol. 1 – Wolf Counsel makes a great deal of sense. It has no great pretensions hiding under the skin, and very little hidden agenda (the lyrics espouse a naturalistic, atavistic philosophy, but you couldn’t really describe that as hidden in any way). Other than gentle nods to later Metal trends (such as with the gruff-vocalled, slightly sludgy Passages), there’s little that couldn’t have been laid down any time since the 70s. This is rock n roll, baby – stripped-down, ready for action and all set to kick out the jams: the latest in a long, long line of bands to understand that the purity of the hard rock hook aims at the gut, not the head. It’s packed with verse-chorus-solo-repeat-to-end, every song a separate anthem-in-waiting: that blueprint absolutely made for the riff. And it works: an exercise in infectiously catchy rolling thunder, given additional weight and darkness by the disciplined pace of the Doom beat, compositional cleverer and more complete than the at-first-glance unsophisticated building blocks. Behind the bludgeoning heaviness lies subtle changes and hesitations in the lead and rhythm guitars, bass runs and drum ornaments filling in the background, plain and excellent deep-timbre clean vocals fitting sweetly into the song structures. There’s a slight falter with the somewhat monotone Battles but it has an amazing guitar solo and it is followed by the stereo-separated clarion-call guitar riffs of Seeking Myself To Live (like a doomed-down take on Soundgarden’s Rusty Cage). So overall the debut album form Wolf Counsel pretty much by definition shows what really matters in traditional genres is not the degree of innovation, but the enthusiasm and quality of execution. You get both here and, as with all good rock albums, they’re aimed straight at punching your most primal response-to-music buttons. For my money, Wolf Counsel succeed in doing exactly that. authentic, and elegantly classic. So when bands like Reverend Bizarre, Count Raven and Lord Vicar makes you happy then you should give Wolf Counsel a try. Really, musically everything reminds us of a mix of those three bands. I am absolutely not disappointed by that.

Track list:
1. The Gathering
2. Visions
3. Battles
4. Seeking Myself To Live
5. Wolf Counsel
6. Passages
7. She
8. Now Is Here
9. Uneven Twins

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Dead Center Productions

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