EP Review: Wrath of Fenrir – Wrath of Fenrir
Origin: Perth, Australia
Release: July, 2012
Style: Death Metal with Symphonics and bits of Folk
A little lesson in Northern Mythology: Fenrir was a son of god of fire Loki and Hrimthur (a giant tribe) Angrboda. Incest was a common good in those days, because the dude looked nothing like a human or giant, but like a humongous wolf instead. He was bad-tempered and ill-willed and so the gods thought up a plan to tie him up. After wolfman broke a couple of conventional chains they tried it with a dwarf chain. The chain was called Gleipnir and was made of six ingredients of varying questionable existence: the breath of a fish, the beard of a woman, saliva of a bird, roots of a mountain, the sound of a cat’s paws and tendons of a bear. Týr, the god of war, lost his right hand during the event as Fenrir bit it off.
There are more details to this story, but you’ll have to dig through Wikipedia for those yourself. They key message here is that Fenrir got pissed. And apparently he still is, because he’s still in chains. Must be looking for revenge. Long story short: cool title for a Death Metal song, an EP and a band: Wrath of Fenrir, all released last month.
Wrath of Fenrir (the band) is from Perth, Australia and started out in 2011. Drummer Nick Bean is also in Red Descending and that’s how we got onto their trail. The band’s other members are Hans Fan Der Linden – which would of course have been Van Der Linden if someone hadn’t made a spelling error at some point in time supplying vocals, Simon Holland – more Dutch – on guitars and Simon Brown on bass. In addition, Red Descending’s Ian Binet supplied some signature synths on the EP.
Wrath of Fenrir (the EP) contains five songs totaling nearly half an hour of dark-edged folk-inspired Death Metal. Above mentioned synths play a huge roll in realizing a lot of the dark atmosphere, whereas the guitar breathe subtle hints of folk elements. A less subtle hint is given by the intro to the first song, Awaken the Frost, in which we hear medieval battle being done (absent from the embedded song below), complete with swords clatter, screams and a battle horn. We will forgive the band for the fact that it sounds as if from a video game.
Other than that, Awaken the Frost and the rest of the album are quite a treat. There’s a strong focus on the riff and the symphonic and folk elements present are limited to providing an atmosphere only. Folk Metal is all fine and dandy, but of the ones that take things really seriously only a very few manage to really create value. Thankfully Wrath of Fenrir aren’t taking the folk aspect too literal and it works really well!
Fan Der Linden’s vocals are varied. His growls hold the middle ground between Johan Hegg (Amon Amarth) and Patrick Carlsson (Anachronaeon). But he also holds house with a more Black Metallic rasp. Hellish and evil as killing a baby! He also uses clean vocals occasionally; in the opening and closing songs. They are of the deep and heroic type, fitting the folky / medieval theme.
There are a few minors to this album too, though they are rather nitpicky. Firstly there’s the fact that On This Conquered Land, the follow-up to Awaken the Frost, continues in exactly the same vein as its predecessor. It’s almost as if it’s the same song; same pace, same atmosphere, same style of playing, etc. Eventually this changes and the song is the more epic of the two, but my first though was something along the lines of “oh great, this whole EP is going to be one homogeneous mass”. It isn’t though!
The second flaw is more taste-related: there’s a riff halfway into the third song, titled Wolfshead, that I just find annoying and way too repetitive. It’s swings back and forth and then has a little harmonic lead. And again. And again. And again. Pity, because the front and back ends of the song are brilliant!
Wrath of Fenrir (the song) is the darkest of the songs on the record. It features wolf howling, an evil choir (synthetic but still) and a slow and dark riffing pace. It’s perhaps more medieval than folky and is most closely related to Black Metal of the songs on the EP. It’s clear why the band opted for this song to represent the band and EP name: it’s got the most soul and character, achieved through a great interplay of traditional Metal instruments, vocals and synths.
And because every album should end with ass-kickery – at least that’s what I think – the band stuck a track called Victory Chant in the back. Fast, heroic, epic, victorious. It’s the one you’d play when you go drinking with your buddies. The one that would make for the biggest wall of death. It’s also the song in which Fan Der Linden’s vocal style is really brought to life. His growls work incredibly stimulating and his cleans no less.
It’s, however, not just the euphoric feeling the closing song leaves me with time and time again that makes me appreciate this EP so much. Wrath of Fenrir really have created an EP, a first effort too, that manages to tick the boxes ‘original’, ‘catchy’ and ‘replay value’. Sure, there are some gains to be made in terms of recording and mixing perhaps (bass is a bit bland, though I’ve made this comment with 9 out of the last 10 albums I reviewed, and there could be a little more depth and layering, another once I’ve mentioned at least a billion times before), but the basis is very solid indeed. Hot shit!
My Grade: 8/10
Buy this when:
- you’re looking for some dark, folky Death Metal without the Scandinavian beer-drinking atmosphere
- you don’t mind a bit of a medieval atmosphere in your Death Metal, nor do you mind Black Metal influences