It’s been heavily storming here in Pittsburgh all week, about as badly as it has at least since last spring when we got pummeled. These storms have kind of been getting more and more frequent (probably no scientific explanation for that or anything…), and every time one comes down, it gets inside my body and bones and helps me embrace darkness.
I was thinking of that this week when I was taking my final critical listens to Wolf Blood’s punishing second album “II,” their first in five years since their self-titled debut dropped, and one that felt just right as the weather was getting more violent. The band’s brand of heavy, sometimes psychedelic doom felt just right as vast storm clouds moved through and darkened what’s normally a bright afternoon sky or thickened the night and made the outdoors look like a chain of light explosions. The Minneapolis-based quartet—guitarist/vocalist Mindy Johnson, guitarist Mike Messina, bassist/vocalist Adam Rucinski, and drummer/vocalist Jakob Paulsrud—packs plenty of power and swagger into this record, and it’s a really fun and furious listen that feels like one of those slowly boiling storms.
“Lesion” gets the record off to a fast start as it pummels hard, with cool buzzing riffs flying and Johnson’s vocals pushing the narrative. The music then slinks into the dark before the pace picks up, with the music getting heavy as hell, before things sludge out into psychedelic waves before stomping to its end. “Slaughterhouse” has an ominous edge that greets you, with Johnson’s singing sending cold waves and the track taking on a ’90s feels. Rucinski’s voice takes hold as he wails, “The darkness in your mind will set you free,” as the soloing heats up, and the track begins to gallop. The track charges all over, things get nasty, and the playing reminds of Kylesa in their earlier days. “Kumate” runs 8:22 and opens delicately before the playing gets mechanical and grinding, and a long intro feeds into a savage display that leaves bruises. “Beast has risen from the altar, consumes your soul, leaves you blind,” Rucinski sings, as the leads catch fire, the pace lacerates, and the track destroys until it bleeds away.
“Opium” is a fast one, reeking of High on Fire-style chaos, laying waste to what’s around them, and Paulsrud’s vocals leading the way before the track spirals out into hell. “Story of a Drowning Man” takes things in a darker area, as the shadows collect amid a bluesy start that also has a desert sunburnt aura. Rucinski’s singing is stronger here than anywhere else, sounding soulful and emotional, while track leans into dusty terrain as dirt trails are pounded. Johnson’s voice as she sweeps in and takes the reins, while the back end of the song soars and burns away. The 11:22 “Tsunami” closes the album by sneaking in and warming up before our eyes and ears before the battering ram in unleashed. Music buzzes while Johnson’s voice swirls in the fury, calling, “Tonight is coming, tomorrow is dead.” The playing snakes as Rucinski sings of a wizard finally coming into his own and controlling his realm, while the song blasts, the playing gets massively heavy, and things come to a smearing finish.
Wolf Blood unload doom fire and fuzzy chaos on “II,” a record that is heavy and spellbinding, bringing their massive assault into focus. The music isn’t necessarily limited to a doom audience, as anyone who dines on riffs and likes to be battered by their record collection will find a lot to like here as well. This is a strong second step into the world for Wolf Blood, and they have the swagger and fire to accumulate a much larger swath of followers.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/wbminneapolis/
To buy the album, go here: https://wolfblood666.bandcamp.com/
For more on the label, go here: https://www.riffmerchant.com/