Here’s album number 4 from the Wolfskult gang from Germany and their brand of heavy folk-pagan metal. In fact “Guten Tag” seems like a continuation of “Wolfskult” (2011). At least the setting seems to be the same: a bunch of noisy, beer-filled blokes in a rowdy pub raising horns and playing metal. Having seen Varg live since the release of the energetic “Wolfskult”, I could see where they’re coming from. It’s all about inciting the crowd, which their music does to a degree. I thought however that their stage performance was trite, and whilst I liked “Wolfskult”, repeating it again is neither interesting nor original. So who might this appeal to? A certain German mentality presumably and lovers of drinking metal would seem to be the answer.
It’s easy to get stuffy about this and write it off as being bland, but as this “Wolf Metal” album progressed, its qualities became fudged and it all sounded formulaic. To be fair, it’s also all harsh and aggressive, rousing even and the guitar work is dark and rampant. There’s plenty of energy.
We’re welcomed in with the title track “Guten Tag”, which has a punk-like element about it. “Frei wie der Wind” is typical. It chugs along energetically. The riff becomes familiar over the course of the album. This one has the feel of a drinking song with its swaying rhythmic chorus line. There’s a Rammstein type chunkiness in there – “Was nicht Darf” is in fact pure Rammstein with its whispered evil. The fire is ablaze but I don’t find there isn’t much to hang on to here. There’s a mediaeval section later, courtesy of a guest appearance by a Eluveitie band member on “Wider Mal Verloren” and there’s a bit of acoustic work on “A Thousand Eyes” but we always return to the same old musical themes and rhythms. At least there’s “Blut und Feuer” and “Angriff”. “Blut und Feuer” starts with Cossack-style guitar work. The fast and jolly rhythm of this fast and driving track acts as a colourful backbone. The following track “Angriff” has a similarly engaging rhythm. This is a song of drinking and metal mayhem, typical of the album as a whole, but the catchiness here outweighs the uniform harshness and reflects the merry mayhem. So there are moments where Varg veer away from the norm, but it soon reverts to type. The pace and style are largely the same. I would expect rowdy, folk-like romps to be reasonably melodic and certainly catchy, which to some degree they are, but the harshness of the vocals drowns the catchiness. The leader of the Wolf Pack roars on but I got fed up of hearing his voice after a while.
By the time we got to the 12th track “Anti”, I’d given up expecting any different formula. This is then followed by “Apokalypse”, which is yet another metal assault. The guitar work is the same, the vocalist rants on and it’s as if there are no more ideas in the pot. It’s relentless and has good levels of energy, I’ll say that and could excite a crowd if they were in the right mood. Having listened to it myself, I didn’t feel excited by the end.
This album is not without qualities, but it seems that any musical deviation from the norm is a gesture rather than integral to the whole. Devotees of Turisas, Korpiklaani, Alestorm and the like may see this otherwise but for me, this 50 minute album could easily have been captured in 10. I recommend “Wolfskult” but as a sequel I thought that “Guten Tag” was uni-dimensional and disappointing.
(4.5/10 Andrew Doherty)