Like their local peers in Archarus and the tragically departed Ice Howl, Wolftooth’s debut album is primarily taking cues from the Age of Winters playbook. The Richmond, Indiana group’s approach to stoner doom is defined by an icy yet muscular guitar tone, hard hitting drums, and filtered melodic vocals. There’s also influence from classic Sleep to be heard, with “Aegaeon” and “White Mountain” in particular boasting stomping buildups straight out of Holy Mountain.
Fortunately, Wolftooth sets itself apart by an enthusiastic band dynamic and hints of hard rock swagger. The drums ensure that even the loosest grooves stay rigid, but you won’t find as much of the thrash influence that was so prominent in The Sword’s early days. The vocals are also strong with a higher place in the mix as well as a confident performance that consistently wipes the floor with J.D. Cronise’s twerpy delivery.
The songwriting is also quite focused for a debut album. With the exception of a couple tempo pickups on “The Huntress” and “Season of the Witch” and a few atmospheric intros, the songs on here are pretty straightforward. Whether it be the upbeat chugs on “Frost Lord” or the charismatic riffs on “Sword of my Father,” you won’t find too many drawn out jams or overly elaborate structures. Some may deem it unadventurous, but Wolftooth clearly knows what it wants and how to achieve it.
Wolftooth seemed to pop out of nowhere and exploded overnight, but the debut proves to be worth the hype. While the transparent influence of groups like The Sword will surely entice fans unenthused by High Country, their dynamic musicianship and strong songwriting allows the group to stand on its own terms. It’s a great addition to the winter playlist, but it’ll be interesting to see how the band keeps building momentum over the course of 2018. The Indianapolis doom scene remains well represented.
“Sword of my Father”
“Season of the Witch”