By Jonathan Smith
Emerging from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Wolvhammer is a band whose debut full-length album, Black Marketeers of World War III, has potentially entered the metal market at the right time. They are a combination of musical elements ranging from black metal to crust punk to sludge metal and possess an outspoken distaste for the state of contemporary society while avoiding the standard satanic, religion-centred attacks of much black metal. This isn’t anything particularly original at this moment – Wolvhammer joins the legion of bands, such as Nachtmystium, who draw on many different sources (though the former sound much fuzzier and more sludgy than the latter). The question is, then, how does the album sound?
Opening track “Cold Ghosts” starts off with a low hum before the thick, fuzzy chords begin in earnest. It’s a solid-enough opening track, followed by the less exciting “Whichery Artillery.” Overall, half of the album is entertaining enough, but doesn’t offer much in terms of memorable songs. Things begin to stick out a bit more toward the album’s tail end with “Suicide Brigade,” which is both catchy and fierce. “A Cancer of Purity” is a slow-burning track, slowing down to a near-standstill halfway through in order to launch a building, rhythmic progression that gets heavier and heavier until it suddenly stops dead. It’s a familiar tactic, but one which usually works for me (as it does here). The song’s last moments, featuring a reverberating hum with soft, lingering guitar notes, seals the deal. The closing track “Monolith” picks things up again, raging its through its nearly 9-minute running time in the album’s most “traditional” mid-tempo, black metal-ish song.
In the end, Black Marketeers of World War III is an enjoyable but standard album that doesn’t make a long-lasting impression or distinguish itself from its musical brethren. Wolvhammer’s hearts and minds are obviously in the right places, but this fact plus a few memorable musical moments isn’t enough to make for a record that stand-outs out from the pack.