It is time to step back through the ages once more with The Wolves Of Avalon on their new album, Y Gododdin, due for release on the 25th of November via Godreah Records.
Formed in 2009 by Metatron (The Meads Of Asphodel) and song writer James Marinos, the band’s fourth album, Y Gododdin, brings us a vision of the Gododdin, Northern warriors whose battles against the Angle tribes are documented in ancient Welsh poems by the bard Aneirin. The Wolves of Avalon’s passion for Britain’s history infuses every note of the songs that form Y Gododdin, transporting the listener to ancient times of untarnished natural beauty, times of strength and honour but also times of blood and hardship.
“A mighty country loves mighty reapers…He calls for death and brings desolation.”
– The Gododdin by Aneirin (trans. David Silvan Evans)
With 6 years passed since their last full length, Across Corpses Grey, the pagan/folk/black metal force are back, and with friends. No strangers to collaboration, having previously worked with the likes of Sigh and Primordial, this time The Wolves have drawn upon the unique and varied talents of Tony ‘Demolition Man’ Dolan (Venom Inc), Thurios (Drudkh), Hoest (Taake), Wulfstan (Forefather) and Nico Millar (Aklash) to bring different touches of magic to their work, as well as highly regarded folk musicians from around the world.
Guests aside, The Wolves of Avalon are Metatron on vocals, James Marinos on bass, rhythm guitar, keyboards and backing vocals, Steve Wallace and Mike Lewin on lead guitar and Steve Clark on drums.
With golden mead singing songs of heroism in their blood they rode forth through the morning mists, each heart pledged to victory or death. With swords, spears and bravery beyond measure they crashed into the swarming mass of the invaders. Like dogs of war they fought upon that field drowned in blood, beneath the circling ravens, till all but three were gone. They died for Mynyddawg Mwynfawr, for Gododdin, for the North and now they ride for eternity, singing their songs of war in the dreams of those who would remember them.
Atmosphere crashing down upon you with the opening segment of the opening track, Through the Murdering Night. The spoken word delivery with sombre melody is a glorious sound that really reaches deep into your being and gets you fully invested right from the off. The deepening melody grows and grows until the drums and guitars kick in, backed by the folk side, it has a truly epic battle metal feel to it and has my adrenaline pumped. It settled into the main riff nicely with layered vocals adding additional depth. It’s a cracking start to Y Gododdin.
The powerful start continues into Men of Gododdin which brings a nice thick bassy tone to the riff and a mix of vocals, bringing some powerful growls and screeches into the mix. I love the pace of this one, it’s a real pit mover during the verses before turning into something altogether grander for the cleaner chorus. The combinations of the heavier metal side with more classical instruments, like blast beats over a piano melody are a real treat for the ears. The Wolves of Avalon are on fine form here.
The Shining Company is an absolute stunner of a song. The intro is pure wonder, the guitars coupled with the melody, the riffs, the drumbeat – it’s a small slice of perfection. The track brings a chugging riff throughout the subdued verse with almost spoken, but growled vocals. It builds and builds in power and intensity until that intro riff and melody take over. It has a melancholic touch to the melodies and even more vocal tones and pitches to just keep everything feeling so fresh and important. Add in a wicked solo to the mix and you have my favourite track on Y Gododdin so far.
We move on with another stunner in Dead Men’s Cloaks. A morose and sombre melody brings the song in with some gorgeously sung vocals. There are so many voices and tones, it isn’t always clear who is singing but whoever it is, you are all brilliant. The vocals really stand out in this evolving piece of majesty. Wonderful singing, sudden bursts of power metal style lead guitars, violin solos and then changes into chunky, bassy stomping riffs. There are loads of seamless transitions that carry you on the journey through the very best of folk, power and metal.
We close this phenomenal album with an 8-minute epic called Is This How It’s Meant To Be. By now, my expectations are through the roof and The Wolves of Avalon deliver again. Being a longer track, we get to hear all of the very best of The Wolves of Avalon on Y Gododdin wrapped into one twisting, turning and evolving track. From the combined folk, metal melodies of the intro with stunning vocals. Gorgeous piano melodies, violins and more combine with the gentler tapped drums and guitar tones. A dreamy instrumental section moves the story on bringing in a chunky riff and heavier drum blasts.
The vocals take on a darker edge as we build towards a little solo, then we change again into a bigger anthemic chorus of sorts. With so much going on, it could have become messy but doesn’t. It flows really well, never feels 8 minutes long and leaves you with a clear desire to just restart the whole of this wonderful album again straight away.
I adored every second of Y Gododdin and found it to be entirely captivating, exciting and quite an emotional ride. The use of so many instruments and so many differing vocal styles make the whole thing sound massive, exciting and full of depth. The Wolves of Avalon have delivered a glorious blend of the best of metal and folk. An album of immense creativity that will reach into your very being and stir your soul.
Grab your preorder of The Wolves of Avalon’s Y Gododdin from Godreah, here. You won’t regret it.
The Wolves of Avalon Links
Y Gododdin by The Wolves of Avalon (Godreah Records)
The Final Score - 10/10