You could certainly never accuse Brighton-based Ant Cole (drums) and Paul Hale (bass/vocals) of being the sorts of guys to rest on their laurels. Since the regrettable and awkward implosion of the hugely promising UK sludge trio Dopefight, the punishing rhythm duo almost immediately formed War Wolf, teaming up with guitarist/vocalist Oli Irongiant (also of the sickeningly heavy Sea Bastard) in a bid to continue to wreak sorry musical havoc across the South Coast and beyond. Since early 2013, these crusty, sludgy, punky tritons have cranked out an EP ‘Riding With Demons’, a split with the gruesome Sob Story and in November 2013 arrived at their debut full length – the politically charged, temple-bludgeoning ‘Crushing The Ways Of The Old’. The songs for the main part are short, sharp little fuckers and so I shall attempt to review them in a similar vein!
Laying down the slow and the hard early doors, ‘Christianity (Is Dying)’ is a durable trudge through cemeteries of swampy, self-destructing hatred in the vein of Eyehategod, Noothgrush or Sourvein. Swinging a wrecking ball straight into the side of a Church steeple is pretty much what the lyrics are all about on this one as Irongiant attacks the establishment with spittle bouncing off his microphone and down your ear-hole cold, hard and composed of 100% pure spite.
‘Oxygen Thieves’ lashes out directly at the cunts of the human race. Bouncing punk rhythms and Cole’s slamming drumwork off some squealing guitar leads; its gutter-bound riffage gets halfway to black metal, but ends up getting lashed in a pitstop with Lord Crust of Shitstown.
‘The Upper Hand’ is a straight-up banger. Hale’s dynamic bass sidesteps neatly around Cole’s expert demolition job behind the kit as the trio stomp over the “reprobates” littered left right and centre.
‘Denial/Decline’ is a 30-odd-second rampage into hardcore territories, all turbo-blasting drums and death-surfing guitar-lines that splatters blood across the walls, ceilings and floor alike.
Tripping neatly into the gruff bombast of ‘Doomed To Crave’, the mutant hardcore gets a little thrashier but by no means any cleaner in its vicious hole of disgust. Cole and Hale rock a groove reminiscent of Dopefight’s once almighty swagger but as Irongiant’s roar returns to dominate the close-out, the chunky riff presses on grimly and unforgivingly towards a demise of sheer brutality.
‘Legalised Love’ sits at the heart of ‘Crushing The Ways Of The Old’, both physically, lyrically and psychologically. This anti-homophobic nailbomb is laced with the vitriol and fervent righteousness of the long overdue legalisation of same-sex marriage and forms the backbone of commentary of the crushed old ways of British society. Musically, Cole sets his snare afire as Hale and Irongiant blister on like Bolsheviks storming some ancient Eastern Bloc palace; axes, riffs, daggers and teeth drawn and sharpened.
‘Douse These Cinders’ carries a beefy bass undertow that’s hard to ignore as Cole and Irongiant speed up proceedings to a full speed punk assault on pretty much everyone and anything. The colossal riff fading this one out is both welcome and deadly all at once.
‘Pro-Choice’ is another short, snappy bugger, swiping at your ankles, throat and guts until you lie pummelled, swollen and bloodied in the middle of a dirt-track, just about ready for the War Wolf to feed on your savaged innards.
‘Democratic Failures’ fires off riffs in all directions rapidly, yet with sublime execution each and every time as Irongiant’s monstrous vocal drone catapults the band into the same mindframe as acts like Dystopia, Grief or Nihilist primed themselves to achieve.
‘Cave Dwellers’ is another speedfreak production, a little like Motörhead if they sold all the Jack Daniels and spent the entire proceedings on dragsters and ketamine. Ultimately it all ends in ugly squealing feedback extreme enough to give Lemmy a nosebleed.
‘The Buried Believer’ takes a swipe at organised religion for the 698th time as War Wolf bring back the meaty riffs and gang vocals that featured more predominantly at the start of the record. Hale’s bass twang sees us off the premises with a steel toe-capped boot to the nether regions.
There’s one last challenge waiting in the wings in the shape of the 5-minute body-slam of ‘Muskets At Dawn’. Rocking a claw-summoning sludge riff at first, Cole soon propels the band face-first into a grinding, crusty oblivion that could only sound fucking hench in a live set. The track bounces between stone-cold nihilism and upbeat aggro-punk, before collapsing halfway through into a puddle of deafening feedback, pissed-on clothes and bruised egos. Stomping out proceedings like some bastard-offspring of Entombed and Indian, War Wolf level the speaker cones and fuck off into the night.
As you might have expected ‘Crushing The Ways Of The Old’ isn’t polite and certainly isn’t pretty, but it’s free to download and it’s fucking good. Dopefight is dead, long live War Wolf – the knarliest musical fangs on the South Coast. One thing’s for sure, Brighton Town is still a fucking whore all right.
Scribed by: Pete Green