By Nathanas Trismegistus
The True Werwolf – Devil Crisis; released February 28, 2020 by Werwolf’s own Werewolf Records. For those of you who don’t know, Werwolf, the mind behind the prestigious band (and personal favorite of mine), Satanic Warmaster, is involved in a plenitude of black metal-related projects including the venerable Horna and the classic Finnish band Pest. The True Werwolf is Werwolf’s BDSM black metal side project with occasional ambient synth elements (not to be confused with SW’s symphonic elements). This is not Werwolf’s only side project, mind you. He has another band called Orlok which you should definitely check out. Apparently, a second Orlok album is in the works, so, look out for that. But, I digress. The True Werwolf has been around for some time—since 2002. Under the True Werwolf banner, many demos were produced, but none were ever released to the public until 2007, in a compilation. And, in the intervening thirteen years, he never produced a proper, studio, full-length album. Sure there were plenty of demo compilations (three to be exact), EPs (six to be exact), and splits (three to be exact), but what this effectively means is that Devil Crisis is The True Werwolf’s “debut”. Are you keeping up? I hope so. Because I’m not done. There are seven tracks on this album (it does clock in at over 44 minutes, though). Two of them (tracks 4 and 5) were featured in the 2013 EP, “C.N.N. / 0373”. The opening track, “My Journeys Under the Battlemoon”, was featured in the EP, “Battlemoon”, which was released all the way back in 2011. Which means – if you’re keeping up – that only four of the seven songs on this album were originally written for Devil Crisis. In the description field of The True Werwolf’s Devil Crisis Bandcamp page (which will be linked below) it states that this album was “in the works for over six years”. Now I ask you, why did it take six years to write and record four songs? I thought I was slow. Damn.
This album’s existence was hinted at by Werwolf numerous times in various interviews. And those hints were so underemphasized and spread across several years, I would completely understand if you weren’t even aware of the fact that this album was just on the horizon. Very little attention was drawn to it. It was very understated and subtle. Very little in the way of fanfare, that’s for sure. And it was probably very wise of Werwolf to approach the release of Devil Crisis in that way. Expectations might be tempered, and any potential disappointment might be mitigated. Consequently, the question I have is not “was this album worth the wait?” But rather, “does this album reflect six years of work?” And the answer, as you could probably guess, is no. This album really feels like scraps of a Satanic Warmaster album (good scraps, though, that probably shouldn’t have been left to waste on the cutting room floor) awkwardly smashed together in a compilation with old, remastered or rerecorded TTW tunes. When you listen to this album, you really get the sense that this is not a cohesive whole, but rather a Frankenstein’s monster, pastiche of grafted limbs of varying stages of decomposition haphazardly stitched together.
Some might be tempted to describe The True Werwolf’s musical style by comparing and contrasting it to that of Satanic Warmaster’s. Some would say that it’s distinct. But it’s not that distinct. Other than the occasional audio samples (I couldn’t wager a guess as to where they’re from) and filthy old 80’s synth, most of these songs – particularly the first three – would fit perfectly in a Satanic Warmaster album. Many of the melodies found herein are very reminiscent of SW. Where it really diverges is with tracks like “0373” which is definitely the black sheep of the album. I know it’s a reference to some obscure Japanese animated show from the ‘80s (reinforcing the rumor that Werwolf is, in fact, a closet weeb). But, in the end, I’m not surprised by its inherent uniqueness because, again, I’ve heard it before in the aforementioned “C.N.N. / 0373” EP. In reality, though, the most “peculiar” track would definitely be the last; a mercifully short black/thrash/punk abomination known as “Magick Fire”. The cough at the end did make me chuckle, though.
What I can say, for certain, is that this album is an exemplary, albeit somewhat unbalanced and flawed, black metal album. What I cannot say, with any degree of certainty, is that I enjoyed it more than, for instance, Satanic Warmaster’s Fimbulwinter. Really, there’s probably nothing that Werwolf could ever release that I would hate (that is, unless he decided to release a Soundcloud mumble rap album). Best tracks are 1, 2, 3, and 6. While I thoroughly enjoyed “Chi No Namida”, I thoroughly enjoyed it the first time I listened to it—seven years ago. Recommended and essential listening for the “trvest” of Werwolf fans. Anyone else probably wouldn’t get it.
Listen/buy here: https://werewolfrecords.bandcamp.com/album/devil-crisis