Whilst it may seem that over the past few months I have only been covering material from Scandinavian and Nordic countries, the main reason for that is because they’ve been releasing some damn good material. Wolfheart’s most recent release, Tyhjyys, was my album of the year last year and part of the reason for that was due to the excellent guitar work on the album. So, when I found out that lead guitarist Mika also performed in this band (fun fact, he actually invited me to like the band on facebook), I naturally figured that it would be worth giving this album a spin and seeing what I thought.
Opening up the album, “Path to the Abyss” begins with a short spoken word section before the overdriven guitars rear their heads and the track gives way to the oblivion-caller that is “As Humanity Weeps”. The latter is the sort of track that would be perfect for getting the pit opening right up and the blood pumping with its breakneck speed and brutal down-tuned melodic riffing. “Dead Sun” follows on from the previous but instead opts for a slightly slower pace whilst retaining the down-tuned brutality of the previous track.
The pace is then kicked back up with “Defeat” and the band almost takes on a neo-classical tone whilst still somehow remaining heavier than a 10-tonne sledgehammer. “Into the Pitch Black” is when the most obvious signs that Mika also plays in Wolfheart appears. With an intro riff bearing similarity to Before the Dawn’s “Unbreakable” and the tell-tale signs of finnish-melodeath plastered all over it, this is the sort of song that when I listened to it on the way home after a sh** day at work, it really cheered me up. I know, I’m strange like that.
Continuing the album, “Alas” & “I, God” drop some of the melodeath themes and are more “modern death metal” with melody woven in. Both tracks are balls to the wall and the sort of material that if they were people, you wouldn’t want to meet them in a dark alley at night. ‘Vultures” then turns the tables again and is practically smothered in both tasty grooves and short and sweet melodies. Whilst I personally am preferring more melody in my music these days, all three of the songs smash home the fact that these guys mean business and truly know how to craft music that will stick in your head for days afterwards. “Fear Is Just The Beginning” hammers home that fact by being one of the most aggressive tracks on the album and yet also one of the most memorable. In particular the breakdown part in the middle of the track with the layered harmonies just before the solo. Top work guys.
The pace then slows and the melodies and synths return in the form of the penultimate and second longest track on the album, “Shadows”. With its anthemic and infectious riffs, I found myself struggling not to nod along to it. It is easily one of the best tracks on Into the Pitch Black and, indeed, one of the best melodeath tracks I’ve heard in some time. Ending the album, “The Void” can be described as a virtual interpretation of that. Dark, crushing and destructive, this song grabs you by the throat from the first few seconds and doesn’t let go until it’s shaken all the life from you. Whilst the band could have quite easily ended the album on “Shadows”, I think choosing to have a song that ends all guns blazing is a sure fire way to show that you still mean business and, if anything, this song brings it all together. Culminating in an acoustic guitar outro, this song to me is how a melodeath album should end.
I’ll be brutally honest and say that when I heard the first single, I wasn’t massively sure whether I would like Into the Pitch Black. However, over time, this album has grown on me to the extent that I find myself listening to at least one or two songs from it on the way to and from work. It has everything that I look for in an album and marries aggressive down tuned riffs and superbly crafted melodies in a way that I have never heard before. So, thank you guys. Thank you for creating an excellent release and hopefully I’ll get to see you perform live soon.
Rating: Perfect 10.
Standout tracks: As Humanity Weeps, Into The Pitch Black, Fear is Just The Beginning, Shadows, The Void.
Into the Pitch Black is released on April 6th via Inverse Records.