Wolvhammer – The Monuments of Ash & Bone (Review)

WolvhammerThis is the fourth album from US black metallers Wolvhammer.

This is the much-awaited follow-up to 2014’s Clawing into Black Sun, which was one of my favourite releases of that year. To say I’ve been looking forward to this album is an understatement.

From the very first menacing sounds of Eternal Rotting Misery, to the closing strains of Solace Eclipsed, it’s great to have Wolvhammer back and doing what they do best; charismatic, characterful black metal.

When compared to Clawing into Black Sun, The Monuments of Ash & Bone emphasises the band’s more traditional second wave aspects more. Mixed with some first wave elements too, the album has more of an old-school feel to it in style, while still benefiting from a modern sound and delivery. The more experimental parts of the band’s previous album have largely, (but not completely), been quashed; on The Monuments of Ash & Bone Wolvhammer have let the blackness well and truly overtake them.

And why not? This album is chock-full of the type of catchy and memorable black metal that somehow manages to balance instant-appeal gratification with deeper substance easily and comprehensively. There are still elements of punk, hardcore, and sludge metal to be heard here and there, but overall this is an album that drips with grim blackened malice and ugly, underground hate.

Through a haze of razor-sharp riffs and dark intensity, Wolvhammer have returned with a filth-covered hammer and are ready to smash faces. Stripped back and raw, this album shares a similarity with the latest from Watain in the sense that all extraneous parts have been mercilessly cut away, and what’s left is a lean, hungry blackened nightmare.

Don’t misunderstand, however, as there’s still subtlety and nuance here, just mostly obscured by the bulk of the material. Wolvhammer still have a talent for crafting atmospheric and emotive sections, with some parts of the album housing some truly quite affecting, hair-raising moments. The Monument of Ash & Bone is not a one-dimensional affair at all. As I said above; substance and depth.

Incredibly moreish and addictive, Wolvhammer have produced 41 minutes of darkness that any black metal fan should have in their collection.

Very highly recommended.

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