Release DetailsLABEL Candlelight
RELEASED ON 6/14/2005
posted on 6/2005 By:
You gotta love any year that gives you two releases from the golden throated JB. His Spiritual Beggars are poised to unleash Demons later this year, but it will need to be one fierce pack of demons indeed if it’s going to tangle with this wolf. Wolf’s Return is the band’s third album, following up 2003’s highly regarded Monument. Grand Magus make it clear with the opening track that they aren’t content to offer up retreads of their first two albums. The band has sloughed off most of its bluesy stoner ethos in favor of some good old traditional metal as a framework for their doom. But not just metal—capital “M” Metal, the kind that truly deserves the descriptor “Heavy”. And it works like a charm.
Album opener “Kingslayer” will put to rest reservations you might have about this stylistic shift. It’s a fist pumping, headbanging, instant live favorite. The commanding vocals of JB continue to be the difference maker, and his rich, immense voice is a perfect match for the material. Parts of Wolf’s Return are more uptempo than the band’s first two albums, and the doom element is more prevalent in some sections than others. Grand Magus use frequent instrumental interludes (“Blodorn”, “Jarnbord”, and “Hamnd” along with the outro reprise of the title track) to hammer out brief unfiltered doom that immediately transitions to the next song, building on the concept and adding the aforementioned traditional Metal. The pairing of “Blodorn” and “Wolf’s Return” is a particularly fierce combination. The former is built around a classic, ominous slowly picked doom riff that builds to the title track, which uses both a muscular chug and slower, doomish passages. Although Wolf’s Return is a move in a new direction, there are vestiges of classic Grand Magus sound, mainly due to the soulful quality of JB’s vocals, but other moments crop up as well. “Ashes”, in particular, also has a more open, hip swinging quality.
We don’t get enough good traditional metal these days. Too often we are served up cheese laden, dated material. Although Grand Magus’ contribution comes draped with a shroud of doom (which is a good thing), I appreciate the nod to days gone. When you get it right, it’s timeless, and Grand Magus has done just that. Wolf’s Return is an album that will be gobbled up by older and younger fans alike.
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