Though he would maintain a front-facing presence in Swiss death metallers Requiem for nearly a decade, bassist and sometimes vocalist Ralf W. Garcia‘s (ex-Curare, Poltergeist) career from the late 1980’s onward wouldn’t see him as master of his own domain until he’d formed traditional doom metal project Wolf Counsel in 2014. Dodgy as some of the riff transitions were in a few spots ‘Vol. I – Wolf Counsel’ (2015) was a fantastic debut and an impressive one man feat that’d twist the arm of stoner/doom unto the more neo-traditional approach of Reverend Bizarre and The Gates of Slumber. In recruiting his Requiem and Poltergeist band mate, drummer Reto Crola (see also: Punish), along with (then) both guitarists from thrashers Punish Garcia‘s Wolf Counsel would seemingly graduate from solo side-project into a full-fledged touring band. A mild stylistic shift would define the next two releases from the band as ‘Ironclad’ (2016) would introduce a Grand Magus-esque (see: ‘Monument’) style and ‘Age of Madness / Reign of Chaos’ (2017) eased up on the floaty stoner metal influence that’d often draw comparisons to Goatess previous. With this fourth full-length Wolf Counsel appear even more focused, serious even, as their style embraces anthemic dirge that’d praise the increasingly obviate obsidian glory of mankind’s greatest gift: The end, our doom, by our own hand.
There is a dire liquid darkness emanating from Wolf Counsel this time around and it is pleasantly evocative of both modern Scandinavian doom metal as well as the bustling greater boon of doom metal in Germany across the last decade. Though it isn’t as tortured as Lord Vicar‘s ‘Fear No Pain’, the pacing of ‘Destination Void’ finds Garcia and crew holding back on the stoner metal affect in favor of a more serious, dirge-like gloom. Their sound is not unlike Seamount and I say that not solely because Garcia‘s vocals have taken on a bit of Phil Swanson-esque cadence but for the staggered, bluesy moments that rise out of the trudging and occasionally intricate rhythm guitar work. Fans of Count Raven‘s ‘Mammons War’ will appreciate that same level of constancy in the guitar work here, albeit without the wah-pedal abuse, that funnels increasingly heavy doom riffs into more concentrated and complex grooves as the record progresses. It is a very focused and dour traditional doom metal experience that should appreciate in value with successive listens.
The lasting value of a solid ‘genre’ record like ‘Destination Void’ really comes down to style points and how long those referential tones carry the pieces in your mind. Wolf Counsel speak a universally appealing language that all doom fans will connect with but, no single moment of their latest record will transcend the greater body of the sub-genre unto wider interest. So, I love doom metal and from my perspective this is an worthy brick in that castle of doom fandom I’ve been building since the mid-90’s. I’m sure your mileage will vary, fairly high recommendation nonetheless. For preview I’d say definitely press play on “Men of Iron, Men of Smoke” immediately and allow the rest of the second half of ‘Destination Void’ to build up towards the incredible riff-heavy ten minute finale of “Staring Into Oblivion”.
Strangers to reality. 3.75/5.0
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