Wolf Counsel – Initivm
Wolf Counsel is a Doom Metal band from Switzerland formed in 2014. With lyrical themes running from fantasy to dire warnings about the future if the world does not change its ways, there is a variety of imagery to drive this record to gloomy new heights. Not content to be just a Doom Metal band, they incorporate some Melodic and Death Metal elements to round out their sound, giving us a bit more than we bargained for, adding some killer touches to make this a bit more unique and bolder. As bands continue to push the boundaries of genres and create crossover songs, we get more and more killer combinations like this.
- Con Doyle – Vocals
- Andreas Reinhart – Guitars
- Ralph Huber – Guitars
- Ralf W. Garcia – Bass/Vocals
- Reto Crola – Drums
Self-Released on September 30, 2022
- The Old Ways
- Raven Dawn
- On Stranger Shores
The album opens with “Healer,” a sludgy, doom-laden track based around a heavy rhythm/riff combination, though the drums are a bit more active than you would think for a song of this tempo. The lyrics speak of humanity being its’ own downfall, which is one of the most accurate statements of the last three years. There is a Healer, and society needs to heed their words and see things through their eyes. One can only hope we don’t discount the Healer as a false prophet and refuse to listen.
Next, “Torchbearer” has a similar tone to both riff and lyrics. The early guitar leads are pretty nice, setting a mood for the track. Vocally, Con’s delivery is measured and level. He goes higher in his range without going over the top and getting into a belting voice. The spoken word and growls add a lot of texture to the song. It would be cool if the Torchbearer and Healer got together to help save the world. The two of them have better vision than most of the current leaders in nations worldwide.
“Ruins” and “Aeons” are consistent with the record’s tone. “Aeons” has a subdued intro, which beautifully sets up the crashing wave of guitars that washes over you when the main riff comes in. The lead work on the guitars is still well-placed, both in tone and tempo for the songs. The bass stays in the Doom Metal pocket so well, never wavering, like the north star guiding ships and explorers for millennia. Kudos to Ralf for being so precise with his tradecraft.
As the disc continues, “The Old Ways” gives us another facet of the band. The choppy riff with the “barely there” presence is not something I often hear in Doom Metal. I am not a subject matter expert in Doom, but I rarely hear songs that go that minimalist on the instrumentation. That removal of the heaviness seems to really accentuate the extra heavy when the rhythm kicks in again. It’s a solid technique for showing off heavy instrumentation.
“Initivm” brings extra tonality to the intro and actually steps out of the Doom Metal genre with the guitar riff for the verses, though it does return for the chorus, bridge, and solos. The movement to a slightly different style is well done, not sounding like they are stretching beyond their limits. With “Raven Dawn” going back to straight Doom Metal, you see Wolf Counsel step up their game and then return to their comfort zone, all without losing their identity or trying to do something unfamiliar.
The last two tracks on the record, “On Stranger Shores” and “Farewell,” are longer tracks, though not the longest on the disc. “Healer” opened at just over seven minutes. “Farewell” has a nice intro showcasing the bass and drums before the guitars enter, slow and heavy, to play one of the most sludge-sounding songs on the record. It just oozes along, slowly taking us on the final journey of this record. Each of these tracks is a little trek in itself.
Wolf Counsel is not just a Doom Metal band. They cross into other realms, never straying too far from what they are built for. Those little side ventures add a lot of character to the compositions, simultaneously creating something that is not new but familiar. Con’s vocals remind me just a bit of Volbeat, particularly the tone/timbre of his voice. Wolf Counsel is a band that will encourage me to dig deeper into the Doom genre.
- Guitars – 9
- Rhythms – 9
- Vocals – 9
- Songwriting – 9/li>
- Production – 9
- Overall – 9.00