Formed early in 2018, Realm of Wolves was formed in almost a supergroup fashion by the members of vvilderness, Silent Island and other projects in similar style. The band members in true (Or is it Trv? I can’t keep up) black metal fashion, the members all go by pseudonyms with vvildr contributing lyrics, vocals and drums, Stvannyr on guitars and Ghöul on bass. The music they craft is dark yet serene, like a dream constantly on the edge of a nightmare yet somehow in the right mindset a listener can all but see the fog this music envokes appear before their eyes! Their first EP, Shores of Nothingness, I did on my band camp finds, which I said I cannot wait to see where they go from them then like I had said that guy with the honey and bees name one too many times this album formed before me. If this album is anything like their EP, I would compare it to a good horror movie, such as 2015’s The Witch in that there is tension the whole runtime, like modern horror fans waiting for the ninety-fourth jump scare of the movie but no one ever came. Or does it? Let's wander deep within this Oblivion that is the Realm of Wolves and see if there is a final screamer after all.
I would like to say as we start this, this was a very anticipated album for me and it really took the scope of their EP and seemingly shattered my expectations of how good the follow up would be. To start this journey off overall this album is a lot more professional sounding album than their EP. Overall, keeping the tradition of “gaze” music of having the vocals mixed down very low in the mix, but in this album, they are very much varied and diverse! It is a pretty sounding album with shimmering guitars both from electric and the acoustic giving it a very good almost happy feel to the album at times but also melancholy at the same time somehow. I could possibly call it something like fake happy and compare it to a person who has a smile on their face in their day to day but has given up or feels truly dead on this inside where no one could see.
Music-wise, this album is all over the place under its atmospheric black metal shell and overall quite impressive what a three-person band can make happen with just the traditional guitar bass and drum set up I would go as far as to use the word progressive to explain this album if they have not! Beyond the overall atmosphere, there are very interesting and headbangable grooves throughout its runtime, even moments of synced up guitar drum and bass that even my core metal friends would enjoy. This mixed with brilliant moments of songwriting come in forms of clean guitars coming in just when then need or vocals changing from clean to scream to fit the overall mood of the part!
Songwise it is a bit hard to pick out favorites as it seems like this album could be consumed as one long song but is broken into parts for the listener's sake. But don’t let that scare you off as even for black metal of any sort this album is overall very digestible and all but demands a second or third listen. Saying this I would not say I had favorite songs but there were stand out parts of the songwriting I was talking about on tracks like “Ignifer” and “Twelve Miles to Live.”
This is mostly where I would talk about the downside of this album but that is really hard to even poke at. I could say from a mainstream point of view this album wouldn’t have a chance of converting non-metalheads to the style of music but for lovers of heavy music, this album is a work of art! The only true downside I could think of is there are moments here and there where I could hear they were a newly formed group, in no way like the EP though. This leads to me wondering what is next? I mean for a new band this is a masterwork the last downside I can see is for the band itself, so how are you going to follow this one up? But judging from the jump from EP number one to album number one for all I know this could be the next classic album, who knows?
As stated this feels more like one long track broken up into parts, so that being said I think my favorite song would have simply been "Oblivion" itself.
Hard A to a soft A+ as stated there were moments you could still tell this was a new group but that can be cured only with time!
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