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Wolftopia – Ways of the Pack

Wolftopia
Ways of the Pack
by Alex Barnard at 05 May 2022, 9:00 PM

WOLFTOPIA is a Melodic Death Metal band from Finland. “Ways of the Pack” is the group’s first full-length album, released by Inverse Records on December 17, 2021.

First of all, I think the song writing is pretty great. I'm not usually a big fan of Melodic Death Metal; I generally find its use of IRON MAIDEN/NWOBHM-inspired melodies and riffs to be a little clichéd, but it’s not awful. You can clearly hear influences from classic Melo-Death bands like CARCASS and HYPOCRISY coursing through this band’s veins, especially on tracks like “Hound of War.” I also find the wolf theme to be interesting, though still a little cheesy at times (like the chorus of “We Are Pack,” even though it has one of the heaviest riffs on the album).

However, my biggest gripe is the production. The keyboards are way too dominant in the mix; at times they overpower the vocals, making it impossible to decipher what the vocalist is saying, as well as the guitars. “The Last Embrace of the Mother” is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. The keyboards need to be backed off in order for them to properly fit in the mix.

Aside from that, the musicianship is fantastic. Tom Israels’ drumming is militaristic and commanding, reminding me at certain times of Nicko McBrain and at others of Raymond Herrera of FEAR FACTORY. Aleksander Okhotnikov’s vocals range from Randy Blythe-esque growls to piercing shrieks, and the melodic guitar lines that he trades with Topi Karhunen are blisteringly fast and definitely take a cue from the late great Alexi Laiho. Niko Peräkorpi’s basslines are not particularly flashy, but they do the job of holding down the groove and filling out the harmonies when necessary. And lastly, despite being way too prominent in the mix, Ossi Peltoniemi’s keyboard melodies are haunting, reminding me of moments from KING DIAMOND’s classic album “The Eye.”

Other highlights from this album include “May He Sever the Shadow,” which is especially MAIDEN-esque in pacing; “Wash the Spears,” which is ferocious and stomping, with just a twinge of 90s Metal in it; and “I Am the Storm” which shows that melodies can be brutal just as easily as riff soup.

Overall, this is a pretty good debut album. WOLFTOPIA, despite certain cheesy elements and production flaws, have come out with a record that is incredibly catchy and wildly energetic. If this is a sign of things to come, then I look forward to hearing what else they have down the pipeline.

Production: 6
Musicianship: 9
Song writing: 7
Memorability: 7

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
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
Lineup:
Tom Israels – Drums
Aleksander Okhotnikov – Vocals, Guitars
Topi Karhunen – Guitars
Niko Peräkorpi – Bass
Ossi Peltoniemi – Keyboards, Orchestrations
Record Label: Inverse Records
     


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