(We’re wolves and so are you and so are Werewolves, whose mission in life is to make you wolves with a serious IQ deficit. Nathan Ferreira wrote this completely fitting review of this band’s second album, which is out now on Prosthetic Records.)
Hey there, NCS readers! Do you want to get stupid?
Of course you do, you’re on a website that exclusively covers harsh, heavy music. Well, I’ve got just the band for you: Werewolves.
A supergroup without any sense of superiority whatsoever, Werewolves is the reptilian-brained collaboration of members of some of the biggest bands to emerge out of the Australian scene, being ⅓ Tasmanian tech legends Psycroptic, and ⅔ industrial juggernaut The Berzerker.
It all started sometime in 2019. Sick of the serious, technical obligations of their main bands, guitarist Matt Wilcock (The Berzerker, Antichrist Imperium) and drummer Dave Haley (Psycroptic, Ruins, The Amenta) met for a coffee, got to chatting, and made the decision to go back to the way it was before they had built elaborate musical careers: have fun, get sloppy, and write fast, dumb, loud stuff and slap it together before you have the chance to dwell on it too much. Fellow Bezerker-ite Sam Bean volunteered to complete the lineup, and their first album, The Dead Are Screaming, was basically already completed the moment it was conceived, according to the band:
“By the following Monday, Matt had written the entire record. Dave recorded all his drums the weekend after. Two weeks later, Sam recorded bass and vocals. It was mixed and mastered the week after that, and we received the cover art around about the same time. A few weeks later, Prosthetic offered us a three-album deal and in the spirit of the band (doing things really quickly without thinking) we accepted. So basically, the band went from inception to first album and signing within two months”.
The combination of star power and focus on knuckle-dragging riffs made me intrigued enough to check out their first album when it came out a year ago. I enjoyed it fine, but if anything, it just wasn’t savage enough. Because of how fast everything was thrown together, it sounds like the band relied on more technical tricks that they’d picked up in their other bands to patch songs together, which robbed them of their straightforward intensity a bit. Put simply, there was too much variety. If you’re claiming something will cause me to lose IQ points, I should barely be able to walk or speak by the time the album’s done, and I found myself still able to form a few semi-coherent sentences.
I swear, they must have read the review I wrote for that album a year ago, because this was the statement they made to accompany the release of the follow-up, What a Time to Be Alive:
“We were sure that we had made something so dumb that you’d grow knuckle-hair just listening to it”, said Sam, “but everyone seemed to think the first album was a nuanced complex work of sensitive genius. We’ve avenged ourselves on such slander by seriously decreasing the intellect on What a Time to Be Alive. As the BPM goes up, the IQ goes down. There was a focused effort on jamming as much searing hatred into every track which we believe is the current zeitgeist.”
It took about halfway through my first listen of “Mission Statement” for me to realize that they weren’t kidding. At all.
There’s even less variety on What a Time to Be Alive than there is on the earlier debut album, and it only serves to benefit the record. Foundationally, this is a much closer cousin of The Berzerker than it is Psycroptic, with the meat of Werewolves being thick chugging that rarely ventures past the third fret while the machine-gun battery adds some shredding to the pummeling. There’s a level of technical efficacy that reminds you this band is still made up of veteran musicians, but instead of using their talents to create beautiful, varied music, they decided to instead see how fast they could make their limbs flail before they start convulsing.
The simplicity of the riffing allows it to rescind into the unclaimed space between genres. The frequent tremolo and (very occasional) higher-register melodies can bring a black metal influence to mind, but most of the lower-end hammering indicates more cues taken from calculated, modern death metal. It’s evident the music is made by tech-death musicians, but it would be a stretch to call this “technical” music, despite its speed. The simplest way I could describe this album is “the halfway point between Marduk and Mortician” but even that doesn’t paint the full picture.
All that being said, and as ironic as it is to mention this in a review, What a Time to Be Alive isn’t meant to be analyzed and dissected, to, really, any meaningful degree. This is auditory pain, and any attempt to try and pick apart its elements to suggest it’s anything other than that is a faulty exercise. This is an album that is felt, not studied.
The best part is this is only the beginning. Without any live outdoor feasts to satisfy the Werewolves and nothing but time left over, guitarist Matt Wilcock has already written four more albums that are scheduled to come out after this one. We’re not even halfway done. Strap in now while there’s still some seats left on this bandwagon.
What a Time to Be Alive was let out of its cage on January 29, 2021, by Prosthetic Records. The album was recorded in early 2020 and was mastered by Joe Haley (Psycroptic), and features artwork by Mitchell Nolte.