Two UK hardcore behemoths collide on this split EP from War Wolf and Crossburner. While both bands have a sound that is rooted in hardcore, each offer a very different experience that warrants closer inspection.
War Wolf are a band who deal in a more mid-paced and careful battering of the senses. Their style of hardcore takes elements from sludge metal creating slower, more punishing riffs and their songs are generally built around some serious groove.
Each of the bands three songs is built around this stylistic choice and guitarist Oliver absolutely steals the show with his consistent yet down-tuned riff worship. This was a stellar decision by the band as the aggressive nature of the vocals delivered by bassist and vocalist Paul means that the riffs become the most important part of the band’s music and Oliver completely delivers on melody.
Highlights come in the form of The Worm which beats you around the head with its pounding rhythm delivered by drummer Ant and its marriage with Oliver’s riffs create an irresistible head-banging anthem. When War Wolf pump out songs like these, you’re reminded why they’re so enjoyable to listen to.
The only down-side to War Wolf’s side of the EP is that if you’re familiar with the band then they don’t really offer anything new. War Wolf have found their hook and it looks like they’ll be sticking with it for the foreseeable future. There’s nothing wrong with it but after an EP, album and now 2 splits it might become a bit stale for fans of the band. Thankfully, the band’s sound is so damn enjoyable that it’s not too much of an issue.
Crossburner play things a little faster than War Wolf. Crossburner’s sound takes cues from black metal to create a sound that is absolutely visceral in nature. Crossburner employ blast-beats and tremolo-picking for an extremely dark and oppressive sound. When it’s joined by the Entombed-esque riffs from guitarist Matt it creates a wonderful cacophony of thrashy, blackened noise.
The band even find time to add elements from doom metal into songs like Rotten Book which features a slower tempo in its breakdown. Crossburner have loaded these songs with a considerable amount of variety and they’re quite progressive in nature; rarely revisiting a riff in the space of a single song.
The trouble is the band are definitely better off when they do revisit melodies. The highlight of the Crossburner side of the EP definitely comes in the form of Pray to Me which returns to its tremolo-picked riff and is far more memorable because of it.
The band often get a little too progressive for their own good and this has the unfortunate effect of not presenting the listener with riffs that last long enough for them to stick with you. Crossburner’s songs need more defining features because the unfortunate side effect of their progressive nature is that all three songs feel like they blend into one.
Regardless, Crossburner have all the right elements to create some seriously engaging and outrageously heavy hardcore, they just need to spend a little more time driving home their most memorable riffs.
War Wolf and Crossburner have delivered an EP that will satisfy hardcore fans the world over. This is a seriously strong collection of tunes that deserve your attention despite some small grievances with over-familiarity in War Wolf’s case and not enough time being spent driving home the strong melodies in Crossburner’s arsenal. If you’re a fan of the genre you’re still in for an absolute treat.