Review: Age Of The Wolf/Tel ‘Vigils’

Vigils is a split between bands from very different parts of the world with Costa Rican sludge doomers Age Of The Wolf meeting Richmond, Virginia’s melodic doomers Tel in a piece that had its first seeds planted in 2019. The bands became friends through social media and decided to work on a split together, which obviously was affected by the pandemic but is now upon us. It’s been released by Electric Talon Records and shows their two different approaches to creating a common dark and heavy music.

Age Of The Wolf/Tel ‘Vigils’

Age Of The Wolf take the first two tracks, and they open with Priestess Of Cledones, which swells through squalling feedback into massive trudging riffs that echo in the darkness. A huge wall of sound stands in front of you, powered by a dense drumming performance that almost overwhelms the ravaged vocal growls and the slowly evolving guitar sound from crush to bluesy swagger. More like the sway of an iceberg in a frozen sea, this ultra-dense groove is intoxicating and almost immediately memorable.

Slaves To The Riff is a masterpiece of suspense; a slow and eerie melody peeks from underneath a deep fuzz, and when that riff comes in you’ll be enslaved too. Lacking the blues of the previous track, this instead draws heavily from the more measured work of Crowbar and EyeHateGod. It lacks the nihilistic bent of the latter, and the groaning pessimism of the former, but instead becomes something quite of its own. A glorious contribution.

Both bands bring a different approach to their craft on Vigils, but they achieve the same level of heft and weight…

I hadn’t heard of Age Of The Wolf before this, but Tel I had experienced on their 2019 release, Lowlife. Their contribution starts with the cleaner, thrumming riffs of Punish. Decidedly less fuzzy and murky but no less mesmerising, the clean vocals have a resonant yet ethereal quality to them. In comparison to Age Of The Wolf, this is far more melodic and accessible and yet there is a definite sense of weight to it. Age Of The Wolf buried you in acres of riff, while Tel plough that furrow with a more progressive, post-metal style.

Downer has some great, Mikael Åkerfeldt-style vocals to it, and feels quite like Opeth in other areas too if they’d started going towards Candlemass and not Camel, YES etc. We close with the acoustic, pastoral tones of Salvation, which for me reinforces that Opeth influence but also shows that you can create a great doom feeling with majestic, cold atmosphere rather than just massive riffs. That is Tel‘s gift.

Both bands bring a different approach to their craft on Vigils, but they achieve the same level of heft and weight. Age Of The Wolf give you the heaviness in its raw and unspoiled form, while Tel bring a cleaner and more introspective sound laden with a gloomy atmosphere that I really appreciate. The sounds temper and contrast with each other really nicely, and I think that really helps Vigils as a whole. Vigils is a split in style but not in spirit, and that was a nice revelation to me. Highly recommended.

Label: Electric Talon Records
Age Of The Wolf: Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram
Tel: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Sandy Williamson