The trio of members that make up Werewolves are all stalwarts of the extreme metal scene. Drummer, David Haley, is also a vital component of Psycroptic and The Amenta, while most of you will know Sam Bean (vocals/bass) for his work with The Berzerker. Completing the line-up is former Akercocke and Mortician guitarist, Matt Wilcock, who also moonlights in The Berzerker and should be part of their reunion when they end their thirteen-year hiatus this year.
With such talent and experience, Werewolves cannot fail, and they don’t. Though the vicious industrial elements are missing from the more famous bands that define them, What a Time to Be Alive is a pulverising record that will give you brain trauma if you’re not careful. ‘I Don’t Like You’ is as hostile as the title suggests with a merciless blast of pedal-to-the-metal psychopathy that Strapping Young Lad perfected back in the day. The double-kick drums are like fracking drills, yet you can also hear a groove underneath the carnage. Imagine if Chimaira reformed as a death metal band but kept the frenzy of their metalcore thrash attack.
It may lack surprises, but Werewolves calibrate their sound into the realm of lunatic death metal with remarkable expertise. ‘Sublime Wartime Voyeurism’ and ‘A Plague on All Your Houses’ crush like Cannibal Corpse, but the dual vocal approach will remind you of Manchester blackened industrialists, The Machinist. ‘Mission Statement’ dares to strip things back to a hardcore attack yet launches into an Akercocke death charge and alternates between fry screams and gutturals throughout. Judging by the lyrics and vitriolic delivery, the trio can also write a hate anthem for the world’s misanthropes to rehearse in a moment when nobody is looking.
You won’t believe you’re listening to a trio at times. The drum work is exceptional and backed up by a powerful mix, and Wilcock’s guitars are just as riotous. Listen to those fast alt-picking rhythms on ‘Unfathomably Fucked’ and ask if this is what Metallica would sound like if re-interpreted by Morbid Angel. ‘Anti-social’ is just as impressive with its riveting groove and chug-heavy breakdown.
Every song achieves maximum hostility and gives you exactly what you want, yet this may also be the only weakness of the record. The adrenaline begins to wear off by the time we get to album closer, ‘They Will Pay with Their Own Blood’. Fortunately, this last track saves the album from dilution with a wonderful foray into slower pastures until the song explodes into death metal frenzy at 03:10 seconds. The maelstrom of harmonic minor riffs and ferocious blast beats will get you thrashing in no time. This is how to write a salacious peeping tom track with a violent twist.
Its creators may adorn some of the most famous bands in the underground, but they mean business here. Three spins of this record will convince you Werewolves are more than just a side project.
Revenge fantasies can be good for one’s psyche.
Release Date: 29/01/2021
Record Label: Prosthetic Records
Standout tracks: I Don’t Like You, Unfathomably Fucked, They Will Pay With Their Own Blood
Suggested Further Listening: Akercocke – Choronzon (2003), Cannibal Corpse – Vile (1996), Strapping Young Lad – The New Black (2006)