ALBUM REVIEW: Wolfheart – Wolves of Karelia

Finland is a country that holds a considerable amount of mystery, melancholy, and magic. The band Wolfheart hails from this special nation and assists their listeners in grasping the greatness of their wintery world. The leader of the pack, Tuomas Saukkonen has been delivering foolproof Melodic Death Metal in several different projects for a substantial amount of years. When Wolfheart released their first album, Winterborn in 2013, it was clear that this act was establishing themselves as a powerful force in the scene. Now the group is releasing their fifth full-length record, Wolves of Karelia (Napalm Records). This new album is expanding the stately, sullen sound of their coined term, “Winter Metal” to new creative crests.

The cold confidently sets in as the opening number ‘Hail of Steel’ begins. The listener is given a minute of expectant instrumental build-up that feels as if one is marching to war. The pulse is set racing as the stride of the song spreads and then when Tuomas’vocals kick in, the chaos and carnage is fully released. Between the girth of the growls and Joonas Kauppinen’s aggressive drum work, a mood of thoughtful fierceness is set. On songs like ‘Horizon On Fire’ and ‘Born From Fire’, there is a heat from their hauntingly honest heart and uninhibited fervor that they intentionally weave into every moment. The mournfulness carried in the intricate songwriting and presentation completely immerses the listener from beginning to end. ‘The Hammer’ flirts with the Black Metal sound as the grit and outrage of the number will set the head whirling about in the windmill fashion. Their crunch and edginess reaches into some dirty depths to unveil the wild and aggression. Tuomas and his bandmates upheave rare, raw emotions with their elegantly severe Melodic Death Metal, similar to other Finnish greats like Insomnium and Omnium Gatherum. The whole record reveals the strong, resilient personality of Finland by projecting distinguished rigor and strength.

The rich melancholy and earnestness on the last number, ‘Ashes’ really instills cold compelling thoughts. The fervent deliberation and drama carried in the massive tones of the guitars and synths sweep the listener to somber sentiment. The record is named after an area in Northern Finland that was affected by the Winter War that took place against Russia in 1939. It’s an incredible part of history that clarifies the courage of this band’s home country. Wolfheart is more diverse and direct in their movements on this record than previous works to really capture the fortitude of Finland. The atmosphere to the acoustics, the violence to the sensitivities, this album pleasantly punches you directly in the heart.

9 / 10