Written by Chrisy
Wolftooth – Blood and Iron
Release Date: December 3rd
Proto-Heavy Metal from Richmond, Illinois, USA
There’s a great deal of respect that comes in dealing with traditional Heavy Metal musicians. Fantasy themes run rampant with lyrical influences that pay homage to delving into the mystical and dangerous elements of mythology, lore, and legend. Focusing on things like magic, battle, and the lust for adventure, Wolftooth makes sure to touch on each and every tale they can with precision and creativity.
Formed in 2017, the likes of Terry McDaniel (Bass), Jeff Cole (Guitars), Johnny Harrod (Vocals, Drums), and Chris Sullivan (Vocals, Guitars) combine heavy metal influences like that of Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, with newer, more modernized sound to create one epic expression of musical story-telling in “Blood and Iron”.
“Ahab” starts our journey through the album with the tell-tale ring of a harbor-side bell providing ample warning before the traditional tone of heavy metal guitars, reminiscent of Blind Guardian, strike us. There’s no denying the musical inspirations in this band but, it’s an influence that has become beloved to both old and new fans across the world for more than four decades. Solid, clean vocals tell the story while doom-like guitars pull us along. It’s catchy, if not lyrically than musically and one cannot stop from head-banging along right off the first drop.
“Hellespont” is the second track that kicks us into high gear with ear-piercing guitars and steady drums. It’s gloomier, and heavier but, offers up no lack of energy as your head is placed in a trance, swaying along to every beat. The tale of the gilded King Xerxes is expressed in detailed lyrics that depict the perfect image of a man who demanded all kneel to one true King. Bloodshed, battle, massacre, and mercilessness are portrayed in skillful vocal high notes held for effect. There’s no need for fearsome drops or brutal breakdowns when the impact of this track is held in its vocal prowess; of course, that’s not to say it doesn’t feature a killer Priest-like solo near its end.
The album’s title track, “Blood & Iron” comes in at third but, surely makes an entrance. Civil War snares echo into the air before guitar strings are slung and we are carefully drawn into one of the most epic tracks this album has to offer. Doomy guitars carve us out like corpses on a pike while solid drums hold place. The doom-influences are highly evident in this track’s guitar work while new age, speed-drumming makes more than one appearance. It’s unfortunate that it’d often shadowed by the vocals and takes a bit of focus but it’s well worth taking a few listens to. Once the tune is left for full feature, it comes through in relentless glory, “for all he knows is Blood and Iron”.
“A King’s Land” smacks you in the face and demands attention. Before listening all the way through, I knew this would my favourite off the album, and I was right. The lyrics flow like water with the beat of the music and it’s utterly infectious. It’s the perfect blend of shredding and chorus with foot-tapping melody and head-banging drums. An excellent midway-placed track to keep momentum and create build up as the album seems to rise slowly but, with constant reassurance of its musical progression.
Without missing a beat, “Broken Sword” steps in, bringing in old-school heavy metal vibes but, holding thrash level guitar riffs at its helm. It’s steady and strong with great dedication to musical breakthrough without getting too out of control and losing synchronicity. A great track to just sit and appreciate, or put on while working on some long, put-off project that could use some attention.
“The Voyage” is traditional Viking lore with high, ear-pounding guitars before the heaviness of rowing oars carves its way into your mind through longing guitar chords. It’s a journey not only in song but, feeling, as each chord carefully strums another stroke forward. Back to familiar shores, or into the rising sun for yet another raid? You think you’re only along for the right but, that axe won’t wield itself.
“Winter White” is lighter, more traditional heavy metal and reminiscent of Sabbath’s “War Pigs” with its slow start but, hearty tune. With reach track running between 4-5 minutes on average, this album is meant for a journey, and not a simple destination.
Songs like “Garden of Herperides” and “The Mare” complete this album with heavier beats and steady, heart-pulsing guitars accompanied by thorough backing bass, and skillful drumming. They’re perfect compliments to a heavy metal album that holds all the traditional style of the classics while still featuring modernized sound.
The Bottom Line
Remember, their theme is adventure and this album is one you take up on a long path, and not a simple run to the grocery store. Never fear, however, it’s got some new age and grungy vibes to keep you surprised with every track. It’s heavy, with classic heavy metal vocals, guitars, and overall sound that’ll make the 80’s in you throw up the horns. Feeling nostalgic but don’t want to run Priest’s ‘Painkiller’ for a hundredth time? Give Wolftooth’s ‘Blood and Iron” a run.
Favourite Tracks: Broken Sword, The Voyage, A King’s Land
FFO: Witchskull, Grand Magus, and Bone Church