Review: “Ways Of The Pack” by Wolftopia

Recorded in the bands home studios in Vaasa over the summer of 2020 before being mixed and mastered by Ahti Kortelainen (Mysterizer, Skullrod, Eternal Tears of Sorrow) at Tico Tico Studios “Ways of the Pack” is the debut album of Finnish Melodic Death Metal quartet Wolftopia. Inspired by a love of fantasy literature, nature and  Melodic Death Metal the band, who comprise Aleksander Okhotnikov (vocals, guitars), Tom Israels (drums), Tim Reus (bass) and Topi Karhunen (guitar) welcome one and all to join the choirs of the pack as they delve into the rich worlds that many authors develop and share dark tales you might expect at to hear at the fireside on a winters night…

Back in 2019 Wolftopia unleashed a two track single called “I Am The Storm” which did moderately well, however the pre-release singles “Alpha“, “Hound of War” and “Wash the Spears” have ignited the funeral pyre as they have reached the better part of 40k Spotify streams before the album has even hit the ground running. There are times when those pre-release singles can give you something of a false impression of how an album will sound and those being so well received means we’re looking for an album that supports them rather than being a close and yet so far second. What Wolfpack have done is give us an album of equals; everything is high quality, high speed, full fat, caffeine fuelled and whiskey soaked. What they offer is a complexity of sound that walks the line between in your face aggression of the guitars and unclean vocals and bombastic grandeur with the vibrant synths and huge rhythms; the fact that this is a debut album beggars belief at times, such is the way in which these songs have been crafted into a searing finished product. It is obvious that a fair amount of money has been invested in the bands home studios, something that is clear because there is no point at which you can tell the difference between this recording and one done in a professional studio. The difference between the two is usually the grade of equipment available and the quality of the engineering and the band have that side nailed. After a rampant opening with a thirst for blood in “Hound of War” and “The Last Embrace of the Mother” which sound like the band capturing the essence of what made Children Of Bodom so great and putting their own spin on it with tempestuous rhythms and symphonic atmospheres, it’s actually Okhotnikov’s sharp tongued vocals which set the things aflame. He’s quite clearly a driving force within the band and that shows in his performances here as he leads the charge with a shriller bark and his sword held aloft before the old school riffs of “Wash the Spears” which have an Iron Maiden vibe to them. Gang chants that the audience will no doubt replicate live are well placed but slightly muddled and not as well timed as you might expect before “We are Pack” and “Predator” bring the solos that are the icing on the cake which the earlier tracks as rocket fuelled as they are were screaming out for. The album doesn’t let up in pace or energy, each track offering a new dimension on what is an essential framework of killer riffs and finely balanced synths against a backdrop of thunderous rhythms; the mix being nailed so the synths aren’t allowed to drown out the guitars at any point and finale “I Am The Storm” is just as powerful and majestic a closing as the album deserves [8/10]

Track listing

1. Hound of War
2. The Last Embrace of the Mother
3. Wash the Spears
4. We are Pack
5. Predator
6. May He Sever the Shadow
7. The Alpha
8. I am the Storm

Ways Of The Pack” by Wolftopia is out 17th December via Inverse Records with pre-orders available over at bandcamp

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