Review: Realm of Wolves – Oblivion

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Hungary seems to be doing pretty well when it comes to notable independent releases, and Realm of Wolves is no exception. The project came together early this year as a collaboration between a trio of musicians with previous work in vvilderness and Silent Island among other projects. Their debut full-length, Oblivion, is a commendable and strong mix of melodic atmospheric black metal, melodic death metal, and post rock with some strong folky moods mixed in.

I still haven’t listened to the other projects by these musicians, but their work in Realm of Wolves has caught my eye enough to keep reminding me that I need to check out their other work. The album starts out strong with the opening track “Cascadia,” and only grows stronger and more intriguing as it goes on, with “Old Roots” bringing in some interesting textures and a seamless transition into a clean section for just long enough to make things interesting before ramping back up into tremolo-heavy galloping melodic black metal. The band isn’t reinventing the wheel by any means, but they’re making one damn good looking wheel.

I’ll admit I’m a sucker for folky sections heavy on the use of broken/strummed chords so when it comes to getting my approval the group already has a bit of a head start, but the album has remained interesting after multiple listenings. Speaking of folky acoustic sections, fans of Alcest will really dig the acoustic track “Translucent Stones,” with plenty of awe-struck major modality, reverb, and back-and-forth layering between the instrumental parts.

If you’re wanting something more epic and ripping, then “Into the Woods of Oblivion” should satisfy you, with its upper-register melodic guitar lines bolstered by rhythmic pounding in the bass, second guitar, and drums, before it takes a slight break to play some beautiful clean lines with guitars bouncing off one another. The break is short though, as it dives back into the dissonant lines the song started with. Probably the second strongest track on the album, and that’s in an album full of standout tracks.

The strongest track for me is the somber closing song, “Northern Wind.” Part of what I appreciate is the bass gets actual musical lines on this album, and they feature prominently on this song. The chanting vocals bolster the defeated feeling as the album wraps up, driving home that Oblivion’s themes have a heavy focus on fate.

Something about the cold weather—waking up in the dark and fog, crunching on leaves and pine needles as I walk—gets me in the mood for somber, reflective music and Realm of Wolves has done a great job fulfilling that want in me. Highly recommended.

4 out of 5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell

Oblivion is out now digitally or as a CD digipack through Cassus Belli Musica and Beverina Productions.

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