Thursday 15 September 2016

Wolf Counsel - Ironclad (Album Review)

Release date: September 23rd 2016. Label: Czar Of Crickets Productions. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Ironclad – Tracklisting

Pure as the Driven Snow
Shield Wall
The Everlasting Ride
Days Like Lost Dogs
When Steel Rains
Wolf Mountain

Band Members:

Ralf W. Garcia – Bass/Vocals
Reto Crola – Drums
AndrĂ© Mathieu – Guitars
Ralph Huber – Guitars


Swiss doom masters Wolf Counsel return with their second album Ironclad and as with their debut album Vol 1 the album is packed full of mournful energy and cast iron riffs. The bands high energy take on classic doom ala Candlemass and Cathedral is elevated here and they take the momentum of their well received debut album and build on it supremely on this album.

Ironclad is the sound of a band taking no prisoners and this fresh and bolstered line up of Wolf Counsel are bigger than ever. Whereas on their debut, it was band main-man Ralf Winzer Garcia who played all the instruments (apart from the guitars) and was pretty much a one man show, now he has a band of gifted musician behind him (and these new members who also play in Swiss death metallers Punish are on fine form here) who elevate the Wolf Counsel sound allowing him to concentrate on singing and his bass playing and this works well as his Wino-esque howl sounds even better on Ironclad.

Ironclad gets off to a roaring start with Pure As The Driven Snow, this opener being a compelling and mesmerising start to the doom laden proceedings with the song being driven by Garcia's strong vocal stylings.

The albums title track is up next and is dominated by a simple but very effective plunging riff that drives the song forth and a catchiness that is always nice to hear from doom merchants, this song is destined to become a live favourite in the future for sure, its chorus being belted out en-masse would be a very pleasing sound.

The likes of the pummelling Shield Wall (with Garcias nod to Tom G Warrior's Style death grunt getting the track started before his doomier vocals take over) and the commanding The Everlasting Ride prove that just as on their debut album, the riffs are on point but they have an even more mature songwriting ability this time around and this is shown off tremendously. The craft that has gone into these songs is as immense as the riffs.

Elsewhere on the album, the hypnotic doom of Days Like Lost Dog and the monstrous When Steel Rains take the classic Sabbath/Vitus templates and run with them, the latter especially is such a great example of a doom song throughout its entirety, it's whole vibe is doomed than thou.

Ironclad concludes with the anthemic Wolf Mountain and what a way to finish the album with a song as powerful as this. The drums sound like hammers battering the mountain of the title and the riffs will stay in your head for days while the singing is melodic and effective and the whole track is a perfect way to end.
Ironclad is the sound of Wolf Counsel reaching their potential very early in their career and it is clear from this album and its songs that they can only go even further up from here.

Words by Gavin Brown

Thanks to Frederyk at Czar of Crickets Productions for the promo. Ironclad will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl via Czar Of Crickets Productions from September 23rd 2016.