The Wolves of Avalon
Across Corpses Grey
The third full-length album from these English folk-metallers isn’t quite so folky and perhaps that’s a good thing. While I’ll admit that their previous record, Boudicca’s Last Stand may very well have been one of the best folk-metal albums I’ve ever heard, it’s good to see that the band are further experimenting. Essentially, Across Corpses Grey is spearheaded by one massive fontispiece that clocks in at a little over half an hour and you can pretty much guess what the name of that particular piece is. But this isn’t just an ordinary title track, mind you – it’s a literal thirty minute explosion of folk-influenced black metal with powerful clean vocal sentiments as well as the Metatron’s (Meads Of Asphodel) ravenous vocal barks, which come off a little grittier than even the common black metal scowl. Backed with James Marinos’ (Absynth) incredibly tasteful clean vocals, we’re getting the formula of what I’ve always considered great metal to be. Fans of acts like Vintersorg and Borknagar will get into this just as much as fans of Cruachan and Emperor. If you still remember the days of ancient Skyclad, then you’ll also find something in this. There’s even a little trippy piece thrown in along with a truly roaring solo section that only further cements the awesomeness of yet another band that I think people should be paying more attention to. I’m not sure anyone’s going to expect this thing to take an LSD trip the way of Alan Moore, but it most certainly does – and I’m thankful for it.
There are two more tracks here after the big meal, but they’re a bit rawer. I don’t think that hurts the awesome caliber of their performance, but it’s not quite what the listener might be expecting. “The Voice Of Steel” most certainly keeps it’s folk instrumentation, but it can sound like a Satyr playing his pipes underwater. Even so, perhaps this grand performance was specially crafted with fish in mind, so that they too can enjoy the wonderful performance that takes place within this nearly nine-minute piece. It’s a nice dessert, leaving us a small mint in the Venom cover here, “Die Hard” which has been reproduced for the full-length release. It was previously only available on a small tape-based EP release, so having it here in a CD format is most appreciated. The main meal of this course is well worth your money, especially if you’re looking to hear a little more greatness from Wolves. It does sound a little like they’re going the way of Meads in lieu of experimentation, but I’d certainly expect nothing less and demand nothing more. After the release of Boudicca’s Last Stand, I soon knew that Wolves had done everything that they could with folk metal and then some. So once again, I’m glad to see that the approach is moving far beyond that as it heads toward something greater. Across Corpses Grey doesn’t feel like a full-length, and seems like an EP with two extra songs tapered on. But it’s still enough to chew on and leaves you with everything you’d get from one Wolves recording, but in half the time. Not too shabby. (The Grim Lord)