Blackened hardcore crew Wolf King apparently have a thing for rhyming album titles. Following on from their 2018 debut ‘Loyal To The Soil’ comes ‘The Path Of Wrath’, two titles that, when put together, sound like the first line of a couplet from a Jacobean revenge drama.
Like said dramas, ‘The Path Of Wrath’ contains ample spectacle, momentum, and violence. A thrilling exercise in extreme metal that takes influence from a range of heavy subgenres, the album consists of twelve grim and nasty crowd pleasers, practically tailor-made to appeal to metalheads of all persuasions.
Wolf King are clearly connoisseurs of the very heaviest and darkest modes of metal. On ‘The Path Of Wrath’, they’ve managed to expertly blend together their potent brew of influences, flicking between black metal blasts, sludgy grooves, and punk riffs with an elegance that belies the ugliness of the music’s savage veneer. They’re already expert practitioners at moving through the gears, the best example being album centrepiece ‘The Oath’, which shifts its tones and dynamics throughout its nearly six-minute runtime.
Through their mixing of hardcore and extreme metal, on the surface, ‘The Path Of Wrath’ occasionally recalls the riff-driven genius of Converge. However, as a whole, Wolf King haven’t (yet) succeeded in reaching the iconic Massachusetts band’s level of artistic singularity, nor emotional depth. More specifically, they sound like the black and death influenced hardcore of Trap Them, Cursed, and Rise And Fall; bands from the late 00s and 10s recorded by Converge guitarist, Kurt Ballou.
This isn’t at all an issue, many of the Ballou recorded bands have come to define the sound of modern heavy hardcore. Cuts from ‘The Path Of Wrath’‘Messenger Of Death’ and ‘Beholder’ – are linear, punk-y ragers, chocked full of dissonant riffing and head banging breakdowns. These are the more familiar moments on the album, but they’re ones that are executed with venomous precision.
At times, ‘The Path Of Wrath’ is like watching a horror film that never quite transcends its genre trappings, but its scares, jolts, and twists are nonetheless plotted smartly enough for it to remain an enjoyably gloomy experience. Wolf King look like the real deal. They’ve mastered the foundations, now it’s time for them to break them down and rebuild them in their own hallowed image.