One of the biggest plagues to have descended upon the world recently is surely the one man black metal band. There’s nothing inherently wrong with them, but sadly bands like Burzum, Arckanum, Leviathan, etc. are few and far between. Most of these bedroom warriors simply lack the ability to create works that are anything more than mediocre. Now, with an intro like that you’re probably wondering why Wulfschrei has received such a high score. The answer is quite simple really. Warwulf fucking rules.
On paper, Wulfschrei doesn’t look like anything special. Its sole member’s only other involvement with metal before the demo was a short-lived stint with Battle Dagorath. 30 copies of the demo were self-released on tape, and it’s just about 13 minutes long. Yes, there’s no denying it; if you substitute Battle Dagorath with any other band nearly no one’s ever heard of, the previous sentences could apply to innumerable other black metal bands. Unlike innumerable other black metal bands though, Warwulf’s first release is damn near flawless.
The album begins with “Through the Desolate Stars”, a slow, sorrowful keyboard intro that builds suspense like the calm before the storm, and the two tracks that follow it are quite a storm indeed. Musically, Wulfschrei’s black metal tracks are somewhat like Satanic Warmaster with their buzzing yet melodic riffs and minimalist structure. Both “From Bone to Ashes” and “Perverted Sorrow” are based around the repetition of just a few majestic, buzzing tremolo riffs that rise and fall. The riffs are of the somewhat slower variety, but combined with the faster drums, the tracks seem faster than they actually are. Vocally this may well be one of my favorite performances ever. Wulfskrieger’s muted and slightly echoing shrieks along with his fantastic sustains fit perfectly with the music and hold your attention completely throughout the short release. Sadly though, as soon as it began it’s over, and the outro, “Wulfschrei”, escorts you gently back to the real world.
Truth be told, I can’t point to a single second during Wulfschrei that I would change. In fact, the only criticism I have of the demo is that it’s too short. Yes, I hate that cliché as much as you do, but in this case it’s true. Excluding the intro and outro, the total length comes to just eight minutes; far too short for a release of this caliber, which makes the intro/outro to black metal ratio a little higher than I would prefer.
With just a single demo, Warwulf has achieved far more artistically than many bands do over the course of their entire career. The material on this release serves as a shining example of what black metal should be; raw but melodic riffs, chilling vocals, and uncompromising. Unfortunately, with just 80 copies in existence it’s nearly impossible to get ahold of this album in a physical form. If ever there was anything in need of a re-press it’s Wulfschrei. Seriously, I can’t recommend this enough; check it out.