Friday, February 22, 2019

Wolf Counsel - Destination Void

Doom mood

Wading through the forgettable, pointless drudgery of the modern metal promo scene, something like Wolf Counsel is a nice break.  There's nothing about this that screams "AWESOME!!" but it's rather welcome to find a band that at least doesn't outright suck.

That's being somewhat mean, because Switzerland's Wolf Counsel is much better than the incredibly low bar of "not terrible", they're just not particularly innovative.  That's not necessarily a bad thing though, because competent music in an established style can be a great listen in almost any circumstance.  This here is indeed competent doom metal and I've been enjoying it a good amount.  It's no secret that doom isn't my usual stomping ground so forgive me for not having too many points of reference here, but Destination Void is very Sabbathian with an added dose of downtempo majesty.  I'd definitely hesitate to call this "epic doom metal" because it doesn't have nearly the amount of hands-to-the-sky splendor blended with crushing riffs of genre heavyweights like Candlemass or Solitude Aeturnus, but there's a very Grand Magus-ish sense of wonder here regardless.  It's very organic and earthy, with bone crunching heaviness in the guitar tone and drums that pound like a timpani, and as a result the overall product works very well.

The thing that keeps me from giving this a full-on endorsement is the fact that... well, there just simply aren't that many fantastic riffs to be found.  Doom is a genre that lives and dies on riffing prowess, and it's why Tony Iommi is rightfully recognized as the metal deity that he is.  A totally average album like Angush's Magna est vis Siugnah last year can still warrant repeat listens based entirely on how fucking rad the main riff of "Blessed Be the Beast" is, and Wolf Counsel never really reaches those heights.  They get close at times, for sure.  "Staring into Oblivion" has a few really good bangers in there, "Tomorrow Never Knows" is damn stunner, and the title track and "Nazarene" have some great moments in the guitar department as well, but Destination Void definitely rests on its laurels too much and leans way too heavily on simply banging out long, sustained chords without really constructing a meaty riff.  They tend to pick up the slack a bit with some excellent 70s style soloing and vocals that are functionally little more than a Phil Swanson impression but still complement the music really well, but the riffing deficiency is pretty notable until the last handful of tracks where they really pick up and start belting you across the back with Sabbathy goodness.

So while the album is definitely imperfect and can't truly be recommended for excellent soloing alone, it's still a nice, meaty slab of doom with enough of the genre's tropes to be a fun listen on occasion.  The consistently slow pace keeps the album cohesive but it tends to prevent any real peaks in energy, which would have been welcome without a doubt.  If nothing else, check out the last two tracks, that seems to be where the lion's share of great songwriting is hiding, the rest of it I could either take or leave, though admittedly most of the time I'd probably choose to take it despite the wanting riffery.


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