If you are new to the sound of the Swedish black metal band WAN, you could make some good inferences about the nature of their music from the titles of their first three albums — Wolves of the North (2010), Enjoy the Filth (2013), and Wan Way To Hell (2017) — not to mention their 2015 split, Necroholic. And if those clues aren’t convincing enough, a list of influences that includes Bathory, Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, Darkthrone, Aura Noir, Nifelheim, Old, and Bestial Mockery should provide further guidance.
But there’s no need to engage in guessing games today, because we have new music from WAN to share with you that emblazons their brand like hot iron on the flesh, in a way that will appeal to the lust of their existing fans and provide a compelling introduction to new ones. What you’re about to hear is WAN’s new EP, Gammal är äldst (“Old is the oldest” in English), which is set for release by Carnal Records on December 21st.
The five compact songs on this new EP are bursting with feral, carnal energy — as vicious as a wolf pack on the hunt, but channeling violence and chaos in a way that exerts a nasty, primitive appeal. Compact the songs may be, but WAN pack a lot of dynamic momentum into the tracks, along with an array of insidiously addictive riffs and compulsive rhythms that are red meat for the reptile brain.
The music is produced with an organic but dirty sound that suits the animal magnetism of the songs, which is further enhanced by the savage fury of vocalist Tsjud’s wild growling snarls and shrieks.
The title track launches the EP with an adrenaline-triggering torrent of blasting and bounding drums and high-toned riffs that swarm, writhe, and slash, punctuated by rhythmic beatings. There’s almost as much rock and punk in the music as there is assaulting savagery, and the song is emblematic of WAN’s taste for switching things up in their songcraft without letting go of the listener’s throat.
Further dimensions of WAN’s music come to light in “Out of Your League“, which interweaves a more mid-paced tempo accented by anthemic chords with a heavy, chugging, head-moving riff. An eruption of galloping drumwork and a feverish, darting lead prove that the song is just as murderous as the opener, but in a further display of dynamism the track also includes an even slower, lurching rhythm with a punchy bass line, and dismal chords over a tumbling drum pattern.
“Fistful of Metal” is a well-chosen title for the follow-on track, given the presence of hammering percussion and a blaring, brazen, heavy metal riff, which segues into booming, jolting, ominous chords that remind you of WAN’s attraction to darkness as well as bonfires of sound.
“Strong as a Bear” is also well-named. It does seem to capture the approach of a lumbering beast which then attacks without warning. The band greet you with a head-wrecking stomp whose bruising riff has a cold-blooded infernal sound — and then the bass and drums go crazy and the guitars begin a fiery, ravaging attack over inflamed shrieking vocals.
A fast, galloping drum rhythm and riffing that surges like a freight train propels the closer, “Till maskarna slängd“, but as usual, WAN switch gears — with a rush of furious percussive blasting and incendiary fretwork followed by a martial drum pattern and fanfare-like chords, which provide a bridge to a lurching movement in which the guitars continue to ring out a grim melody before a final surge into the red zone.
You’ll find pre-order info via the links below. And look for WAN on the road next year: To celebrate their tenth year as a band, they’ll be embarking on a European tour in May 2019 together with Nekrokraft and The Generations Army.