GnarWolf – II
GnarWolf‘s II comes hot on the heels of its 2016 predecessor, Abandon, and improves upon it in every way. Building upon Abandon‘s southern-fried chaotic hardcore stylings and pushing it a bit further, II delivers 14 minutes of feral rage and head-spinning eccentricity. This Austin act’s style is characterized by heavy, angular grooves, hardcore rhythms and off-kilter, dissonant breakdowns and noisy riffs, similar to that of Every Time I Die, The Chariot and the like. It’s a distinct style, notable for its ability to tow the line between catchy and abrasive, that is rarely pulled off. But it is a genre-blend that GnarWolf pulls off with finesse, as made evident by II‘s first three cuts. “Harold: The Hero”, “Jessie: The Sheriff” and “Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins: The Mayor and His Wife” churn out relentless assaults of crooked rock groove, chugging vitriol and metallic hardcore chaos. These sonic tornadoes of flesh-ripping mathcore are similar to those found on Abandon, albeit much tighter and more vicious. The second half of the EP is where the band become more violent and a bit weirder. “Anne: The Widow” cycles back-and-forth between hypnotic, atonal melodies and atmospheric doom crawls propelled by Austin doom artist Ell and her ethereal croons. “Hector: The Foreigner” deals out discombobulating instrumentation that slides, squeals and writhes feverishly throughout, and bleeds into a climatic cacophony of feedback and fierce screams. “The Dodge Brothers: The Cowboys” brings everything to a close with hammering, skull-crushing metalcore groove and grit, and a lengthy, menacing piano outro that ends the EP on a somber note. While GnarWolf purvey a style of metalcore/hardcore that isn’t exactly new, its worth noting for its solid execution and genuine fierceness.
Release Date: April 8, 2017
Favorite Tracks: “Jessie: The Sheriff” and “Hector: The Foreigner”
For Fans Of: Every Time I Die, The Chariot and Norma Jean
The Final Sleep – I
New York’s The Final Sleep offer 30 minutes of storming, triumphant metal on their debut release, aptly titled I. Comprised of members of HUSH., Dying Breed and Arsis, this quintet delivers a seamless amalgam of classic thrash, melodic death and progressive death metal. The EP’s sound has one foot firmly planted in death metal’s roots, with the other foot dipping its toes in modern waters. These five tracks are akin to that of Mercyful Fate and early Opeth, as well as newer acts like Black Crown Initiate. Guitar riffs gallop, stampede and spiral fiercely on top of thrashing percussion throughout, ensuring the listener gets the proper bashing they deserve. The instrumentation weaves in-and-out of thrash grit and face-melting death, but also delves into more angular and more dissonant territory (see “Disbelief”). Virtuosic solo work and the occasional acoustic and melodic flourish makes an appearance to add different textures to an otherwise fairly ballistic metallic affair (see “Disbelief” and “Feeding the Night Sky”). At the heart of all of this is vocalist Jeff Andrews, who effortlessly transitions from gruff death metal growls to soaring, classic metal melodies. Though the EP does have its moments of repetitive song ideas and the occasional drag, I gets props for paying homage to the past while keeping an eye on the future. If these New Yorkers continue to progress further, the follow-up to this release might be explosive.
Release Date: January 11, 2017
Favorite Tracks: “As We Leave the Flesh” and “Disbelief”
For Fans Of: Opeth, Mercyful Fate, Primordial and Edge of Sanity