Finnish death metal band, Wolfheart, released a new EP on the 5th of March via Napalm Records called Skull Soldiers.
Wolfheart formed back in 2013 in Lahti as a solo project for guitarist and vocalist Tuomas Saukkonen, by 2014 it had an established line up . A lot of hard work, touring and releases followed but it was really in the last few years that their name has risen to prominence in the death metal arena. Their 2018 release, Constellation of the Black Light was very well received. They topped that though with their 2020 release, Wolves of Kaleria, which is an astonishingly good album that received rave reviews globally.
Alongside Tuomas Saukkonen, Wolfheart consists of drummer Joonas Kauppinen, bass and backing singer Lauri Silvonen and guitarist Vagelis Karzis.
Wolfheart appear to be a band that like to stay active so already we have a short EP release in Skull Soldiers to keep us slightly satisfied while we wait for their next full length or, hopefully, a tour. Skull Soldiers comes with 4 songs on it. Two fo those are brand new tracks while 1 is an acoustic version of an existing track and the other a live recording from their 2020 lockdown enforced live stream event.
We get underway with the title track, Skull Soldiers which is a powerful track. The drums hit hard with crushing riffs and dark, guttural vocals. The rhythm catches you quickly and gets the head moving. Carrying on from Wolves of Kaleria, the lyrics tell a tale of a small Finnish Special Forces Unit who painted skulls on their helmets during the Winter War. Wolfheart certainly manage to capture that freezing cold, mountainous feel in ther music. I feel cold listening to it. I love it though too. Especially the layers that appear as we hit the chorus with a power like lead guitar line leading the way. That coupled with the punishing rhythm is a forceful and exciting sound.
Hereditary carries on the same story bringing in an frenetic drum beat with a pounding bass line and a tiny amount of symphonic backing to just elevate the track in the right places. The weary cold feeling is till there, engulfed in anger and aggression. As heavy as it is though, and it is, there is so much more going on here. The backing is immense, the vocals are powerful and there is a ton of groove that really does grab your attention and hold it. Its an absolute belter of a track.
The “rarities” pop up next starting with an acoustic version of the song Aeon of Cold from the 2015 album, Shadow World. It is sombre and eerie, and a nice change up. Clean vocals are delivered by bassist Lauri Silvonen who is clearly very talented. A dark and harrowing acoustic song, if ever you heard one, it is also really cool to see yet another string to the bow of this talented band.
We then close Skull Soldiers with a live cut from the their 2020 virtual concert stream. This time we get a rip roaring rendition of the single Reaper from Wolves of Karelia. It sounds great, almost identical to the album version other than having an extra touch of rawness and it seems a little faster, a little heavier. In other words it is a fantastic live song with huge guitars and crashing drum blasts. The vocals are gravelly and harsh but the intensity still finds room for large chunks of bassy groove, and flawless lead guitar melody.
Skull Soldiers is a cracking little EP full of the coldness of Skálmöld and occasional more power esque heavy Amon Amarth tones. It’s dark and heavy , the sort of metal that should get some nice raging mosh pits fired up. Within the bleak darkness though, the band show more than enough variety to hold interest with lashings of groove and catchy melody bedded nicely in. Skull Soldiers should capture the imagination of old and new fans alike.
Grab yourself a copy of Wolfheart’s excellent EP Skull Soldiers from Bandcamp, here.
Skull Soldiers by Wolfheart (Napalm Records)
The Final Score - 9/10