Not to be confused with the equally fine British hardcore band Gnarwolves, Gnarwolf is a primal roar from Texas whose snarl is also hardcore bred and demandingly distinct. The Austin hailing foursome of Andy, Trent, Steven, and Polo are about to release their second EP, II. Like its title, musically the band gets to the point without fuss. There is no beating around the bush in sound and intent, just raw and intensive examinations of the senses and emotions; a trespass which is merciless, abrasive, and increasingly tasty.
There is no mistaking the admitted influence of bands such as Every Time I Die, Norma Jean, and The Chariot in the Gnarwolf sound, essences which fuelled last year’s debut EP. Abandon was a formidable introduction to the band and it seems quickly picked up a whole new flood of fans the way of the quartet. It is success easy to imagine II finding as a bare minimum. There is a new wealth of inventive hostility and unpredictable imagination to their sophomore release without defusing any of the venomous causticity and cacophony of antagonism which enhanced its predecessor, as well as the potential of even bolder things nestling in its stirring body.
It starts with Harold: The Hero where straight away beats rap at the door before ravenous metal seeded riffs and senses slamming beats join throat scarring spite flavoured vocals in breaking through the defences. It is an instant punk roar to get off on, the technical dance of the guitars enhancing rather than distracting from the instinctive belligerent holler. That unpredictability is already at play, adding an almost schizophrenic hue to the dirty frenzy gripping ears and a quickly awoken appetite.
Its persuasive challenge is followed by that of Jessie: The Sheriff, an even more agitated and concussive affair veined by toxically spicy grooves and mixed vocal uproar. For a minute and a half it bullies, ravages, and invigorates body and satisfaction, hitting the sweet spot in noisy discontent and ferocity before Mr. And Mrs Jenkins: The Mayor And His Wife unleashes its own infectiously irritable clamour of sound and heart where sonic ire twists and turns with increasing corrosive seduction.
Anne: The Widow entwines ears in its own intoxicating but fearsome hooks next; the flirtation of a citric melody quickly accompanied by vocal exasperation and in turn a gloriously predatory bassline. It all merges into something harsher and filthier within a few more seconds, a brawling cloud of ill-content eventually losing its shape as that first sonic lure frees itself again with vocal harmonics as raw as they are warmly enticing in tow. The song is pure captivation eventually leaving lingering wounds on emotionally and sonically scoured flesh and senses.
From there Hector: The Foreigner simply throws its mordant might at the listener, guitars and vocals a scalding scourge as rhythms prowl with their own dark intent. For personal tastes, some of the twists do not come off as well as elsewhere within the release but are fleeting moments in another highly bracing and pleasurable assault.
The EP concludes with The Dodge Brothers: The Cowboys, a maelstrom of spiralling guitar incitement, rhythmic blitzing, and vocal acrimony but also a theatre of melody woven drama as keys court thoughts and emotions from within the turmoil to brew a haunting epilogue.
There seems to be an exciting wave of noise-mongers emerging right now, new and those finally seeing some attention from their place within the underground. Gnarwolf seal their place to the fore of that outbreak with II, a release as punk and metal as it is noise and hardcore, and more and more one thrilling invasion of the psyche.
The II EP is released April 8th.
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Pete RingMaster 31/03/2017
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