2014’s Wolf Blood made a great impression on me, but it would be another four years before we heard from them again. Then, last year’s Tsunami/Home appeared. It may have been short, but it was mighty. Well, I’m very pleased to say that there’s no four-year wait for any more material, as we now have II, which boasts 41 minutes of material, (most of it new, with the remainder being taken up by Tsunami, which we already know).
Wolf Blood may be a doom metal band at heart, but they don’t always restrict themselves to this genre, and they certainly don’t always play slow. Opener Lesion takes me by surprise the first time I play it as I thought I’d put on a different band by mistake for the first couple of seconds. Yep, Wolf Blood can play fast when they want to. Shortly after this hyper-energetic start the band fall into slower, smoother territories, and the seductively luscious vocals of their singer, (one of them at least), make their first appearance. The speed was not a one off though, and recurs throughout the song and the album, in places.
Speaking of the above singer, her voice is rich and emotive, and manages to be a focal point of the songs, but without ever stealing too much unnecessary focus from the music itself. This quality can be said of both male and female singers, in fact. The male vocals that appear act as a deeper counterpoint to the female ones, while also offering strong vocals in their own right. The two singers use their voices very well across the songs, and unlike a lot of bands that employ more than one singer, one of the things I like about Wolf Blood is that they do interact and play off each other on occasion, as well as giving each the room for solo performances.
Opium, a short and energetic rocker, also boasts some tasty growls, and Story of a Drowning Man contains anguished harsh vocals at one point. I believe these may be from another member of the band, (possibly?), but regardless, the vocal diversity of the album is a strength.
Back to the music then, and although doom metal is the band’s base style, Wolf Blood add to this with choice elements from stoner, sludge, progressive doom, heavy metal, and hard rock. Each song on this album is its own adventure, and the diversity of delivery and variety here is to be applauded. It works as a holistic collection of tracks, however, as the band have a strong personality of their own, and restrict their sonic wanderings to pathways that complement the core of their doom metal approach. Within this, anything is game.
Essentially, Wolf Blood do what they want with their music, and allow it to roam freely within their set musical framework. Operating at multiple paces and giving us many different moods to become absorbed by, II is an album that you can easily get lost in. I find this kind of music quite captivating when done well, as it is here.
Wolf Blood have outdone themselves with II. Their previous album was impressive, and their EP last year tantalising with promise, but II is just ridiculously, unexpectedly good. I really hope it helps the band reach a wider audience, as it definitely deserves to. If Wolf Blood aren’t snapped up by one of the bigger underground metal labels soon, I’ll want to know why.
Essential listening. Get on this now!