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If you don’t like Black Sabbath or The Misfits, just quit reading this right now. I’m not saying Wolf Blood is exactly just like these bands, but it’s fair enough to say that if you’re not down with horror obsessed old school feeling stoner metal, this is definitely not the band for you. The thing about Wolf Blood is that it takes elements from these groups and then ups the ante by making it harder, thrashier and more technical.
Wolf Blood is one of the newer metal bands in town that have somehow been accepted by more than just metal heads in the area. Metal in the area has been around for over 15 years but it has literally stayed on the outskirts for most people. Many metal shows happen in Wisconsin or in the Cloquet area. Metal is kind of a funny genre because there are really many aspects to it. This could be said for a lot of forms of music, but the diversity of metal is truly astounding where I often am at a loss of words to describe it fully. When looking at another band in the area, Indulge, yeah, that’s metal to a certain extent, but you’ll probably never see them playing at a metal fest out at Wasko’s. When looking at crust punk and other ambiguous descriptions like “crossover,” I can’t exactly pinpoint why some metal is accepted more than others in the area, but it does seem that finding a certain niche helps a band stand out.
With Wolf Blood that certain niche is being dark and badass. During the last Homegrown festival, the Wolf Blood show at R.T. Quinlan’s ensued one of the most intense shows the Twin Ports has ever seen. Dillinger Four at Pizza Luce’ over a decade ago rivaled it aside from all the stage diving at the R.T.’s show.
Well, I think it should be at least kind of established what this band is all about, but just in case, I’ll go over a few of the songs. There’s six songs on this album but the shortest is three and a half minutes and the longest is a whopping 12. The album starts out with the track, “Witch,” and yeah, that’s what the song is about. The tempos vary quite a bit in a lot of the songs. Slow and trippy at times, fast and hardcore in others. I’d say around 60 to 70 percent of Wolf Blood’s music is instrumental. If you want excellent singing, you know, maybe a little bit of Dio, maybe a little falsetto singing, you’re not going to get that. The really amazing thing to me is that the primary singer is Jake Paulsrud and he is the drummer. It’s kind of like Ozzy except a little more raw. This isn’t Genesis we’re talking about here but Paulsrud’s vocals seem fitting for this band and the fact that he takes on the very physical task of playing some fairly technical beats and sings at a different pace than the beat itself is noteworthy.
Other members of the band include Mike Messina on guitar, Brian Wells on bass and Mindy Johnson, known for her work with the Keep Aways, providing some additional vocals and some solid guitar work as always.
Not everything on this album is in your face. Songs like “Black Moon” start out with a distorted, yet melodic, introduction. This gives way to a thrashy all out heavy verse with a stoner metal feel. There’s plenty of guitar play in action and this works most of the time. In “Black Moon” things change up and keeps the song interesting. There are a few points in the album where there feels like there should be a change but yet it goes on for several more bars longer than it should. If you like awesome heavy music and aren’t paying attention, you probably won’t notice. I don’t review albums while stoned or I might actually have a better understanding of why this is.
If you like all of your music with catchy hooks and predictable verse/chorus material then this might be a tough listen. If you have a firm appreciation of metal, punk and dark themes, this might be your new favorite band.
Other things of note would be the album’s cover. This album cover is probably my favorite after doing five years of local album reviews. As far as the vinyl goes, there will be a limited pressing to my understanding and the cover alone will make this really collectible. I wonder if someone will pick up this album a decade or more down the road just for the cover and end up loving this album. In this way, the album cover will probably attract the exact audience who will appreciate the music. The art is credited to Maurice de Jong. It’s safe to say the cover compliments the music well.
Wolf Blood will be kicking off at tour at the Red Star on Thursday, September 25. They will be focused on a midwest tour going down through Chicago and Kansas City. On Halloween they will be playing with the psychedelic/surf/punk group, Dad’s Acid at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, and that will be a show to make for sure if you don’t already have plans.