Issue #122: Wulfband by Wulfband
July 16, 2018
Released On November 5, 2014
Released By Progress Productions
It all starts innocently enough — both my intentions and the album. I’ve noticed that my tastes seem to change with the seasons. In the spring and summer, I tend toward music with lots of deep bass — hard techno, EDM, dubstep, industrial, and EBM. In the fall and winter, I tend more toward more organic tones, those which I perceive to be warmer, perhaps. There’s no science behind this observation and I’ve never looked at my listening data to confirm it, but year after year I notice this pattern. The weather has a certain duality in the region I live and it can be searing hot one moment and cool off entirely within the same hour. It’s as inviting as it is hostile. It might have been in a moment such as this that I was looking for something that could satisfy my love for a summer-like hard bass line, but something with a less repetitive and robotic appeal than techno.
I can’t remember exactly whether it was a recommendation engine, an article from another reviewer or a blog I was reading, but they mentioned the release of the sophomore record Revolter by Sweden’s Wulfband — describing it half-heartedly like something notable but relatively unknown. Nevertheless, the description was compelling enough for me to check it out and what I heard gave me one of those rare moments that any music fan is familiar with. The album got my full attention and took over repeat plays for days. For that reviewer it was an industrial record that did’t follow the rules. It wasn’t sad or dreary or gothic in the way that industrial music ought to be. It had short, freaked out, blisteringly fast songs and distorted bass patterns that were more akin to a punk aesthetic. It had all the things I love, but haven’t heard since the ’80s. The vocals, high pitched and uncharacteristically warbled and melodic played off the music with a sort of clockwork deliberation. It all fit together. There were no remixes or guest appearances — these songs were constructed as rapid but complete, full throttle blows. There was no bleakness or loss of hope. In fact, it was celebratory in its anger. It doesn’t wallow in self pity but climbs up out of the black and stomps down its foot. From the first notes, I loved every minute of the industrial bangers on Revolter. I couldn’t get enough of it, so I dug a little deeper. That’s when I found Wulfband, the self-titled debut adorned modestly but appropriately with the advent of a giant full moon. Something was emerging.
I should point out that I don’t speak a word of German outside of what I looked up with Google translate solely so that I could understand a little bit of what I was hearing and maybe even sing along. Interestingly, German is not the first language of Wulfband either. When asked why they choose to sing in German despite their Swedish origin, the response is that “German has a nice ring to it.” So says their equally mysterious and admittedly semi-informed spokesperson Wulfred Higgins. “I’ve said it before. When someone screams orders in German you tend to listen up.”
Little is known about the duo other than that there are only two members of the band — “7” and “9” — and they’re making the music that they believe is missing. When they appear onstage, the lead singer wears what appears to be a frayed and stained cheesecloth bag over his head. It gives him an unsettling appearance in the right light, like a character from the Silent Hill video game. The mask gives him the freedom to sing without any interference or sound distortion while also masking his identity and certainly adding to the fairly consistent mystery. The other member (it’s not entirely clear which is which) performs with two drum sticks, his head wrapped in a leather domination mask, a meme not uncommon in industrial music circles, and a small set of electronic drums. There is far more going on in the music than he can play with just two sticks so much of the performance we have to assume is either triggered or perfectly timed with his drum hits.
To my English-trained ears, German is a harsh-sounding language. Certainly Rammstein has exploited this to great effect throughout their long career breaking in Europe and North America. If sounding angry is your goal, German can help double-down that effect by sheer virtue of it’s cadence, growled or hollered. Even Canadian industrial outfit Front Line Assembly released the song “Angriff!” for the single with the same name in 2010. Somehow “Attack!” just wouldn’t have been enough.
While I spent some time in Cologne, I realized that even the sweetest most well-meaning German people had a way of speaking which sounded so bitingly direct that something as simple and benign as “Can I help you?” would come off like a command to which one owed an immediate and submissive response. It’s not uncommon for North Americans to mistake Germans for ill-mannered despite the fact that there are no negative intentions beyond being straight-forward and honest. As if that weren’t enough, the vocalist of Wulfband delivers every syllable in a rapid-fire, mouth-wide-open stab. “Klappe! Bitte Ficken” is a great example of another such relentless vocal assault. I’ll let the reader decipher the meanings, but if I may make a suggestion — don’t. Just leave it alone. If you’re going to dance around the room with your pre-teen kids singing “Mutterficker!” or “Kalt Blut!,” ignorance is bliss. English listeners have a distinct advantage in not knowing. It allows us to enjoy the sound guilt-free. But I don’t recommend you do it around someone of German origin. They may call Child Services. What I’ve learned about German is that their language, like their culture, is most often exactly what you think it is.
Combine the harsh linguistic characteristic with fast-paced, throw-back electro-punk riffs and you wind up with a combination of sounds that is both explosive and energizing. Electronic Body Music (EBM) as it used to be rises from the crypt and “SMF” gives the listener an absolute celebratory audio beat-down. Strangely, the lyrical content is also delightfully unapologetic in its disrespect. Wulfband’s self-titled debut is back to back, fist-in-their-air anthems without any particular political bent. There’s just enough distortion to add a dash of chaos and noise but not so much that it masks the beat. No matter where you find yourself on the political spectrum in 2018 we can all agree that the world is messed up and crying “Fick Das!” certainly applies for all of us.
Humans, I think, respond to assertive commands regardless of their content by falling in line. It’s very probably a remnant of our early authoritarian parental dynamics. I am not saying, of course, that Wulfband is giving marching orders that anyone should heed or even toward positive outcomes. Quite the opposite, in fact. I don’t know where “Weg” (“Path”) is going, but I suspect it’s not good. When a chorus of children’s voices in a holler-back beckons you along in response to the snarled commands, how can you do anything but smile and sing along? I can’t help but giggle a little. It’s over the top — like Devo yelling, “Whip it good!”, only updated for today, and much more intense. It’s anger therapy in audio form.
Many months later, I would reach out to the band to try to find out more about them only to be fed the same cursory answers that every other inquirer has been given. The band is Swedish. They like the sound of German. They have no immediate plans for a North American tour largely (and regrettably) due to the costs that would involve and there’s some indication that they are fans of The Cure. I am actually a fan of this anonymity. There’s more fun in not knowing and from what I’ve discovered, it seems to be more authentic than most. Less of a gimmick in some sense and possibly more go a logistical necessity. “It should always be about the music,” Higgins explains unhelpfully. The implication of that statement, of course, is that if we knew the identity of those involved, it would no longer be about just the music. Read that as you will. It’s possible that the band have day jobs or maybe even that they’re already well-known in the music industry. When I asked if they had been in other bands, Higgins vaguely responded that he wouldn’t be surprised if they hadn’t. Personally, I believe it’s a red herring. The production is fantastic and credit for that goes to someone called “H1.” The sound quality and attention to detail on every beat, sample, and hit speaks to an experience in the genre that would be uncommon for newcomers on a debut record. It’s reminiscent of Portion Control and Nitzer Ebb and listening to “Chaostanzen” in particular will exploit every circuit of a nice pair of headphones. EBM bass riffs and 4-4 kick and snare pounding away while audio cries come at you from multiple dimensions. It’s ferocious and it’s fun.
As to what genre this falls into, Higgins offers nothing and doesn’t seem to understand the need. It is what it is. When I play the music of Wulfband for people, most are very excited by it. They want to know where I heard it and why they haven’t heard it before. That, I explain, is simply a matter of logistics. There’s no major label, no marketing reach. They’re on most of the digital music services, but aside from that, you’d have to ship their CD from Sweden. Like any modern band, they reach out over the Internet and drop the occasional video on YouTube. But there’s definitely a growing momentum and a lot of interest. Unlike their debut, Revolter turns a bit of a different corner, replacing some of that raw, implied punch with studio effects and more typical industrial sounds. It’s somehow crunchier and more distorted. The debut, conversely, captures the essence and spirit of what Wulfband brings to the table. Higgins wanted to know why I chose to focus on the debut rather than their follow-up and the answer is that it’s got an intense purity to it. I love both albums, but if I was going to introduce someone to the band, which is exactly what I am doing here, I would have to start them with the most accessible track, “Kalt Blut.” I believe if Wulfband could spread, they could be the modern equivalent of an angrier, more intense Falco. In fact, if I were their manager, I’d ask them to cover “Rock Me Amadeus” just for the audacious symbolism of it. But alas, I am just a fan of their music and it’s my hope that as our writers share their perspectives, we may make you one too.
Darryl Wright (@punksteez)
Lovechild Of The Music & Technology Marriage
Two mysterious Swedes singing German and blowing the roof off of EBM in the 2010s.
Don’t mention Nine Inch Nails or Rammstein. Don’t mention Nine Inch Nails or Rammstein. Don’t mention Nine Inch Nails or Rammstein. I had to fight this thought from the moment I hit “play” because they’re the two main touchstones I have to Wulfband. (I suppose you could throw in “99 Luftballons,” as well.) At any rate, the Swedish duo’s eponymous album is a lotta fun. And much like Death Grips’ poppier material, Wulfband somehow makes a combination of nihilism and audio terrorism highly danceable. That’s some serious talent. But beyond Death Grips and Those Bands That Shall Not Be Mentioned, there are subtle hints and flavors of some less obvious influences including Grimes, thrash’s serpentine riffing, Sex Pistols, nü-metal, and even Prince. The album is just as much fun on its own as it is to pick out its (seemingly) disparate pieces. But for me, the real enjoyment of Wulfband comes from the gleeful antagonism of it all: They’re Swedish but they sing and scream in German, they go by the integers “7” and “9,” and the word “fuck” appears in two song titles (as well as their respective lyrics). And yet, when a fan asked if one of their singles would see a vinyl release, their reply was shockingly polite: “You bet“. Is that their true nature –two guys who are Ned Flanders-nice — or is it just another way to expertly troll us? Maybe that’s the point: that we’re not supposed to know. Perhaps that’s for the best, since it allows me to simply enjoy a ridiculous album by a ridiculous band.
Steve Lampiris (@stevenlampiris)
Sure, Let’s Go With That
Hah, oh wow — blast from the past here. Back at the dawn of the ’90s when I was still early in my teens and seeking any hint of alternative music culture anywhere I could find it (the internet didn’t exist back then), I discovered some then-current industrial groups on late-night MTV. I’d read about industrial as being some sort of weird anti-music created at the end of the ’70s in the UK, but the groups I discovered in 1990 or so weren’t the sort of harsh noise I was expecting. Instead of sounding like Throbbing Gristle and Whitehouse (groups I wouldn’t hear until years later — but by this time, I already knew what to expect), this stuff was like really unmelodic, angry synth-pop. It was like new wave played by angry metalheads. And it had a very Teutonic vibe, which only made sense because it was mostly played by groups from Germany and its vicinity (Nitzer Ebb, KMFDM, Front 242). At the time, I didn’t really know enough to distinguish these groups from the American Wax Trax/Nettwerk-affiliated types like Ministry, Revolting Cocks, Skinny Puppy, and Meat Beat Manifesto, though, and then a bunch of bands from that scene (most prominently Nine Inch Nails) blew the hell up and totally eclipsed what is apparently known as “electronic body music.” Unlike a lot of dimly remembered bands and sounds from my early teens, I never dug back into all that rivethead shit — and in the interim, I heard a lot of really watered-down, wussed-out versions of this sound played by synth-toting goth groups like VNV Nation and Apoptygma Berzerk (mostly from a goth girl I dated a long time ago). That stuff did not bear repeat plays very well for me, and only now, listening to (and doing internet research about) Wulfband do I see that the EBM I remember from my early teens was quite a different proposition from all that goth stuff that scared me away from black-wearing synth types. If VNV Nation was the most wussed-out, watered-down version of those Nitzer Ebb and KMFDM records I remember, though, Wulfband is the opposite — an angry duo in masks who gleefully scream German curse words all over their self-titled record (despite the fact that they are actually Swedish). The beats are heavy and retain some subtle melodic undertones, enough to make them a little bit catchy, but the main factor drawing me into this album is its gleeful, barely-contained energy. None of these songs are slow, none of them turn out to be drippy, mournful lost-love songs delivered in cartoonishly deep baritones — none of them bore me. In fact, this album is kind of a blast to listen to. It gives me positive memories of watching Nitzer Ebb’s “Control I’m Here” video at 1:20 AM on a Sunday night when I was supposed to be asleep. Not many things have done that in the 25 years since that moment, but it seems Wulfband has more to offer than I ever would have guessed.
Drew Necci (@buzzorhowl)
Insightful Scholar Of The Underground
Of all things, MTV was verboten. As a child pretty severely abused by my father, there were few rules my mother could enforce that would stick, seeing as how there were so many nonsensical rules already imposed upon us, and not watching MTV was one she clung to and one I systematically broke. Lying with my feet propped up on the ledge of the entertainment center was my preferred way of watching MTV, and it was in this splayed pose that I first encountered Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People.” Oh, certainly, the video played into the terror I felt experiencing the song, but I can trace that experience to the first time I realized that sound could be engineered to be terrifying, and in listening to Wulfband I was pulled back to that moment of awareness because of the styling of the album. Taking away any understanding of the lyrics, given the half German, half terrorized tone, one is forced to focus on the sound of the album, and the sound of this album is one of manufactured horror. Every moment of listening is one bowing to the alter of the ’80s, the aggrotech pulsing through the headphones in a deliciously black overtone, the stuff of nightmares and drug dreams, melodic even in the choppy beats of electronica. An unfiltered foray into the indulgent pleasure center of the id, Wulfband allows for the kind of dark, violent space where it’s safe to be loud, encased inside electronica ’80s beats.
Laura Burroughs (@_thetwors)
Jestful Musical Erudite
Finding out that Wulfband isn’t from Germany, but is in fact a Swedish band was a surprising start to exploring the group’s 2014 full length, eponymous debut. Realizing not long thereafter that Wulfband is also the kind of collective that prefers to keep its identity enshrouded in vague mystery left double the surprise and a bit of a drop off — something akin to a dark, bottomless ocean cavern — in terms of knowing into what one is getting themselves. That said, in some ways, the insistence on anonymity is liberating because there’s no need to conflate backstory events with perceived emotional or technical intent of Wulfband’s music. The only easily grasped direct correlation between what descriptive breadcrumbs are given and the style of the self-titled record, is that the dozen electronic tracks offer a presence that could be felt as melodically dark, and sonically combative — aligning with the very visceral preparative summary displayed on Bandcamp: “Like a pack of their feral lupine namesakes, Wulfband furtively emerges from the dark and suddenly, with a howl of rage, unleashes a ferocious attack. Instead of fangs that pierce you their weapon of choice is a mix of crushing beats and driving bass lines, topped with aggressive and deranged vocals. Music that rushes, strikes and thrusts until you submit totally.” It being just a coincidence that this past issue pick also bared a German title, Issue 84, Warhaus’s We Fucked A Flame Into Being, actually comes to mind here; though mostly for what I recalled back then as eliciting thoughts of “dark, often dangerous alleyways of [New York City] in the 1980s.” Furthermore, even though the music on the latter is not nearly as pugnacious as the former, the emotional vibes between the two don’t feel terribly out of reach of one another, however I’d sooner see Wulfband’s music leading me down, not just a dark alley in Berlin, but also toward a secret night rave, behind an unmarked steel door that’s holding back vibrations to intense, anyone who enters understands immediately why the band describes their tracks as “electronic body music.” The tracks are all given succinct German titles that range from innocuous words like “Jetzt” (“Now”), to implicitly intense “Gewalt” (“Violence”), and then downright crass “Fick Das” (“F-k That”), and additionally vulgar “Klappe Bitte Ficken” (“Flap Please F-k”). The sound behind these titles is just as intense, piercing, and likely to physically rattle, as the selection of synthesized tones propping up the very sharply enunciated, pseudo-shouting vocals, raids the sustain-heavy end of the spectrum. Tones are wide, lower register, and laser like; again evoking Warhaus by way of how Wulfband‘s synths carry distinctly 1980s character as opposed to the equally long sustained, deep register, and hard-hitting nature of the tones utilized by acts like Tokio Hotel or Skrillex. (The bit of woodblock audible at times on the bottom heavy “Fick Das” is a flicker of organic light in the electronic dark.) Some glimpses of quirky sounds break though, like the old fashion phone ringing on “Attentat” (“Attack”) or the breaking glass and burning embers on “Weg” (“Path”). Still, these sound design-like inclusions feel like the exception rather than the rule. Honestly, this is an record with such intensity that listening to it doesn’t seem right if one of the following things isn’t happening: 1) It’s dark. 2) It’s the middle of the night. 3) You’re at the gym doing something so intense the vibrations push you to an extra rep or extra kilometer. 4) You’re at aforementioned secret rave and flailing your body around with many other strangers who are only interested in the way the sound assaults their sternums like an invisible battering ram. Personally, I’m not into substances but I would be remiss if I also said it didn’t seem feasible for people to be caught up in the dynamic ceiling of this record while in some kind of drastically altered state. (Disclaimer: Don’t do drugs, kids. Music is great without them.) Ultimately, while I started this commentary by saying the lack of backstory freed up thought on just the music, the reverse stands to a degree as well: not having any backstory, if one is also not versed with fluency in German (or really, even if you are), all that’s left is the take in the very domineering and dynamically oppressive style of Wulfband and either be all in for the barrage or risk being pummeled by the electronic onslaught.
Kira Grunenberg (@shadowmelody1)
Prolific Sonic Scribe & Unifier
Jarring and lively just like the rest of this great record.
I know two things are for sure about this album. One, Wulfband is certainly not something that would normally blast from my home speakers. Two, the energy throughout Wulfband is absolutely infectious. I’ve never done cocaine before, nor do I plan to, but I imagine this record is an audio equivalent to the rich man’s Aspirin. The charging arpeggios of “Gewalt” and “Attentat” make me want to run. Fast. And that’s really saying something because there’s not much I hate in life more than running. I also really enjoyed the children-assisted call and response of “Weg.” There’s something about children’s voices over exceptionally dark music that will always be fascinating and, more importantly, pleasing to the ear. Is it me, or does the fact that they’re German children make it that much more sinister? I digress. I think the fact that we can’t understand the lyrics make us appreciate the production on a much deeper level. Whatever Wulfband are saying, it’s not happy stuff, so hat’s off to the band for maintaining that aesthetic in their musical beds from start to finish.
Kellen “J. Clyde” Ford (@jclyde757)
Steadfast Hip-Hop Historian & Creator
We had stayed too late at the party and now our daughter was strapped in her car seat, wailing. Nothing we tried worked. Not the tape of sweet songs we used to help her get to sleep. Not the improvised fairy tales she usually loved. It seemed she would wail all the way from Brooklyn to the northern tip of Manhattan if we didn’t think of something soon. In desperation, I started clicking between FM pre-sets on the car stereo, which were programmed mostly for left-of-the-dial stalwarts like WBAI, WFMU, WFUY, and WNYC. We hit one of them and heard a grinding industrial noise, somewhere between guitars and buzzsaws — or maybe guitars being destroyed by buzzsaws — with metronomic percussion and guttural vocals. Techno metal, industrial rock, digital hardcore, call it what you will, but the ’90s was full of it — and it worked like a charm: within minutes our girl, who had been such a harsh mistress, was asleep. From that moment on, that whole style of music became known as Harsh Mistress, and we used it to placate her for a few months before moving onto the next aural pacifier, The Beatles. Putting on Wulfband’s eponymous debut brought me right back to that moment in the car, so perfectly do they evoke that era of Nine Inch Nails, Rammstein, Shizuo, and others. However, Wulfband’s conviction and lack of self-consciousness, along with their technical expertise, keep them from sounding like a cheap throwback. If you listen deep in the grooves, there’s also a surprising rhythmic flexibility, which keeps things contemporary. But Wulfband is mostly the sound of glorious extremes and shouldn’t require much analysis: either you’ll like it or you won’t. My only disappointment in Wulfband is that their name doesn’t have an umlaut. There is one in “Aggressivität,” however, a standout track from late in the album, and one whose title tells you all you need to know about what to expect from their music.
Jeremy Shatan (@anearful)
Prescient & Appreciative Musical Omnivore
From the start of “3, 2, 1, Nein,” you can tell that with this album you’re inviting a musical predator in to share your brain for the next thirty minutes. Not for the faint of heart, Wulfband’s self-titled release is most commonly described as in-your-face EBM. Now that you’ve had fair warning, will you let this band crawl in through your ears and make a mess of your brain? Are you feeling confused and maybe even a little scared yet? Good, me too. Now, let me elaborate on this album after just a quick tangent. Mindless Self Indulgence, The Presets, and Wulfband — what do these artists have in common? Aggressive electric pop sensibilities and the perfect blend of shouting in my ears and flawless synth hooks. So how does Wulfband stand out from the rest of the pack? Although they may sound like they’ve been around for just as long as the rest of the group, Wulfband has only existed since 2014. In a short four years, Wulfband has mastered a balance in their music and made an album worthy of standing alongside the latest Presets and MSI albums despite a ten-plus year disadvantage. Moreover, Wulfband and its members are shrouded in mystery as its creators have yet to reveal their identities to the world. So, to get back to my previous point, you need to drop everything you’re doing and listen to this album. Wulfband is more edgy, aggressive, and mysterious than your average electronic music project and that is undeniably appealing to all things with ears so don’t pretend you’re not at least intrigued. With MSI’s indeterminate hiatus slowly taking its toll on me, I couldn’t have been introduced to Wulfband at a better time. (Thanks Darryl!) If you’re like me and have been craving an aggressive electric fix, you need to get your hands on Wulfband’s self-titled album today. Like right now.
Erin Calvert (@erinpcalvert)
Elder Goth In The Making
How does hearing unfamiliar languages make you feel? I harbor a judgy and probably unfair hypothesis that there’s a link between your personal politics and how you react when you hear people conversing in a language you can’t understand. As a result, I doubt I’m capable of reacting genuinely in those situations, because I’m married to this idea that there is tremendous beauty in the differing ways people around the world communicate, and that celebrating that variety means fulfilling America’s promise as a diverse, complicated, righteous crossroads. Shouty German with no easily found online translation and band members who hide their identities? Well that’ll put your idealism to the test, won’t it? Especially these days. Thankfully, when you have a brother-in-law whose ear for industrial is infinitely more attuned than yours, you’re directed to learn about the origins of electronic body music, and how bands like Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft adopted a fascist aesthetic as a means of challenging how German forms of expression were perceived. (A handy quote from the D.A.F. Wikipedia page: “The singing isn’t like rock ‘n’ roll or pop singing. It’s sometimes like in a Hitler speech, not a Nazi thing, but it’s in the German character, that crack! crack! crack! way of speaking.”) It reminds me a little of how I felt about patriotism during the second Bush administration. I remember going to NASCAR races in Richmond around that time, and refusing to believe that waving an American flag should be equated with cosigning W’s terrible policies. It also makes me think of the current wave of artists like Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson, who refuse to let the term “country” be a bad word, despite the avalanche of bad music being unleashed by that genre’s established forms of distribution. I hope that’s what’s going on with Wulfband. I can’t be sure, but if I’m being true to my ideals, I shouldn’t be so anxious.
Davy Jones (@youhearthat)
Idealistic Seeker Of Neoteric Sounds
7 and 9 — or 9 and 7, who knows? — are intense live. Don’t believe us? We present exhibits A and B.
I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, and I know I’ll say it again, but oftentimes when I’m unfamiliar with the artist of the week, I’ll try to play a guessing game on what their music sounds like based on the band’s name and album title. I would say that I have a fairly consistent 50/50 ratio going on, either getting it close enough or being completely off. With Wulfband and their eponymous debut LP, I was way off. There was a small part of me that was being overly influenced by the fact that their name reminded me of Wolfmother, but a larger part of my instinct told me that the spelling of “wulf” meant I should expect something darker and heavier. And while I wouldn’t say that Wulfband is a particularly light or breezy album, because German electro and industrial music inherently have dark characteristics, there’s still something inviting about it. There’s enough pop and melody infused into songs like “Gewalt” and “Fick Das” (you know, perhaps if I had looked at the song titles themselves, the band’s sound wouldn’t have caught me off guard as much as it did) that’s reminiscent of Pretty Hate Machine — it’s kind of evil and kind of angry, but it’s also damn catchy. As usual, I spent a lot of my time listening to this album on the train and this complemented the NYC subway in so many ways. The loud grinding of the trains on the rails paired perfectly with the harsh electronic musicianship, and the shouted anger of the lyrics fits the general New Yorker attitude when dealing with even the slightest of delays, and yet, somehow it all still manages to be accessible.
Dustin Gates (@cmoncheermeup)
Relapsed Pop Culture Junkie
Wow. Wulfband are clearly a “go hard or go even harder than that” type of band and I wouldn’t want it any other way. This album was so much more aggressive than I was anticipating and I couldn’t be happier about that. The songs are all incredibly high energy and I was nodding my head and pumping my fist within the first 15 seconds of the first song. Honestly, I never really stopped for the entirety of the album. It is a textbook example of taking a sound that I am moderately familiar with (I picked up on some Nine Inch Nails influence, or at least adjacency, in there somewhere) done to perfection and at double the speed. Needless to say, I loved it. “3, 2, 1, Nein” was probably my favorite track, but “Attentat” and “Chaostanzen” were also standouts for me. And even though I was fairly comfortable with the German, having taken 4 years of the language in Middle and High School, I don’t think that the language barrier would get in the way, even for someone far less fluent than I. Let’s face it: You get the gist of what they’re going for in most of the songs, even if you have no idea what the fick they’re saying.
James Anderson (@unabashedjames)
Devoted Docent Of Musical Concepts
Honestly, music in the summer time just makes me one happy human. I have just had the most incredible weekend at my local music festival, Hillside Music Festival, and the best part about it was discovering all this amazing new music that I had no idea about, but now love. And going off that mood, I was really eager to give this album a listen because I’m still in that massive musical mindset. What’s great about this album is that I could definitely see them on a festival stage playing these tracks. Maybe that’s because I’ve still got that on the brain, but there is something about the strong background music that courses through the tracks that I know would entice an audience to jump and dance around. I really enjoy the different musical sounds they’re playing with in the tracks — the heavy guitar, penetrating drums — it really makes for powerful songs to listen to. While the vibe of the festival I was at this weekend may have been a bit more chill than this album was, this was a really cool album to end the weekend on.
Chelsea Kostrey (@chelseakostrey)
Retrophile & Festival Enthusiast
In all my listenings of Wulfband — and I’m half-way through my seventh listen now so you know it’s damn good — I’ve never really committed to any type of sound comparison or genre pigeonholing. Sure, there were moments that reminded of me heavyweights like Nine Inch Nails as well as smaller but still great acts like Chemlab, but most comparisons seemed to exit my mind as quickly as they entered it. It was almost as if Wulfband had strapped me into a car, constructed of their own manic machinations, going 150 MPH down a highway littered with billboards of techno, industrial, EBM, thrash, and electronica. I was aware they were all there, shaping the blurred picture in front of my eyes, but focusing in on them proved disorienting and after a while, they just blended into the overall atmosphere of the ride. It wasn’t just the speed and intensity of the music either — it was the joy I felt coming through their Wulfband’s sounds. I know — joyous, harsh sounds never sounds right, even after we’ve spent thirty years proving dissonance can sound just as melodic as harmony. Wulfband’s music would be a great defense against anyone who wants to try to argue otherwise. Just listen to “Jetzt.” The opening notes border on impish, something that carries over when the song switches from passive to aggressive. And then there’s the vocals — sharply punctuated by the harsh delivery of the Germanic language, but still as infectious as the best pop hit of the summer. The mysterious nature of the band helps me lean in on this joyous sentiment too. After my second listen, I just began to imagine these two as dutiful workers in Max Martin’s Swedish pop laboratory, toiling away on the next impeccable melody for Ariana Grande or The Weeknd. But as soon as the five o’clock whistle blows, they hurry off to a warehouse in the sketch part of town and start messing around with instruments to fulfill their own darker sound. That day’s pop work would still be swirling in their head, as would the gratifying feeling of finally working on what you want to work on, and that’s how we end up with Wulfband: a record that shows musical mayhem can be exceptionally melodic and downright fun.
Doug Nunnally (@musicdoug)
Garrulous Aural Braggart
Savvy Show Stoppers by Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet
Chosen By Steve Lampiris