(Wolves stick together. In this post, BadWolf reviews the brand new debut EP by Mourning Wolf.)
I’ve been hearing about Mourning Wolf since the band’s first practices. As a matter of fact, it’s about all that the project’s vocalist, Clint ‘Darkness’ Harkness, talked about for months. Readers may recognize Harkness as the lead singer of Lansing, Michigan’s The Devastator. He’s right to be excited about the project—the Elmhaven EP is rock-solid.
Mourning Wolf blends two disparate, but equally melodic strains of heavy music into a cohesive whole. In the first place, their music owes a great deal of debt to the kind of melodic metalcore that Headbanger’s Ball peddled in the naughty aughts. For example, the first segment of “Elmhaven Part II” could pass as an unreleased demo by Darkest Hour, or early Killswitch Engage. Wisely, the band avoids the saccharine clean singing and sentimental lyrics, lest the music veer into self-parody. Mourning Wolf diverge from melodic metalcore in another critical arena: the first part of Elmhaven clocks in at almost eight minutes, and its successor breaks the eleven minute mark.
The second ingredient in Mourning Wolf’s music is longform ambient black metal, the kind of music Wolves in the Throne Room and Alcest play. If Mourning Wolf were from California or Washington, someone would have called them Cascadian by now.
I’m enamored of this unlikely union’s fruit. Both elements balance one another perfectly. The more driving hardcore elements give both Elmhaven songs a necessary bit of structure, and make the music a bit more driving and aggressive than Cascadian black metal tends to be—see the opening of “Elmhaven Part I,” which segues from big drum hits into a melodic blast-run. On the other hand, the ambient sides blend both songs into one cohesive texture.
I had the chance to talk to Harkness, briefly, about Mourning Wolf and his transition from brutal death metal to this kind of music. “Elmhaven is something everyone of us has wanted to do for quite sometime. It’s more than just a piece of music, it’s a reflection of us as people. We really wanted to make music than you can feel. We’ve all done the super heavy music before, you just don’t feel the emotion and realism that you can with Elmhaven,” he said. “I am very passionate about Mourning Wolf. I have never felt so at home with any other band I’ve been in.”
By my estimation, Harkness is right to be excited. Mourning Wolf blends two commercially viable, yet completely disparate styles into a single, functional whole. I’m anxious to hear more from the project.
Elmhaven is available as a pay-what-you-want download through Bandcamp, and is embedded below. It comes highly recommended, from one wolf to another.