Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
This weekend brings you a dual-feature on Riff Relevant. This round, we have an album review from David LaMay of the debut full-length release from Indiana’s Wolftooth, and finish things out with an interview with the guys in the band from Pat Whitaker. If you’ve yet to hear the likes of Wolftooth, now is your prime opportunity to learn everything you may need to know. Enjoy! ~ Leanne
Review by: David ‘Sunshine’ LaMay
To these raggedy ol’ ears, the whole stoner / retro / doom “thing” has taken a decided turn for the worse in the past year or so. Quantity has finally overruled quality, and too many budget-priced slabs of fuzzy indifference have made discernment an accidental by-product, rather than an intention at the onset.
Thankfully, a portion of practitioners within the genre still tackle heavy music with pride, while also finding approaches still rife with possibilities. Indiana’s WOLFTOOTH is among those who manage to rise up from the tepid muck and demand your attention… and they do it with a début effort, no less.
Within two minutes of an initial listen to any of the eight tracks on ‘Wolftooth‘, it’s hard not to be impressed with just how together the band sounds. Whether it’s the Iommi-esque drive that punctuates opener “Blackbird Call“, the melodic noodling of “White Mountain“, or the quick stop riffs that begin “Season Of The Witch“, it really does not matter.
The vocals are also a very strong selling point, right along with the wicked arrangements and execution. Clean, sometimes harmonic singing, as of late, oft-times goes into poppy or emo territory with similar artists, but not here. Here, it is powerful while accessible.
Now, everyone likes a place to start for referencing, and such points of placement only further this record’s impressive nature. Deep Purple, (much) Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, NWOBHM, and a few passing nods to the likes of say, The Sword or War Cloud, should whet one’s curiosity just enough.
I guess I haven’t been the most subtle in my summation of WOLFTOOTH and their opening salvo. If anyone were to mistake this for a fifth or sixth outing from a fifteen-year veteran ensemble, it wouldn’t exactly be surprising. Here is some wicked proof that, while you can’t reinvent the wheel, it is still very much possible to get it to stick to the road with a fresh, renewed grip.
Chris Sullivan – Guitar / Vocals
Terry McDaniel – Bass
Jeff Cole – Guitar
Johnny Harrod – Drums / Vocals
Interview by: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker
I am always stoked to witness the arrival of a promising band, being there in the earliest stages to see their rise and growth. Indiana’s WOLFTOOTH is such a band. After exploding into the scene with an EP in 2017, the band quickly began garnering notice and accolades and now, here we are.
2018 has seen WOLFTOOTH release their critically acclaimed, self-titled full length (we’ll assume you read David‘s review above) and play some incredible shows. The latter will continue when the band plays the upcoming second annual Descendants Of Crom Festival this Fall.
April 20th saw the highly anticipated arrival of their début opus on vinyl from Cursed Tongue Records and the CD format arrived from Blackseed Records. So, what better time than now to sit down and pick the minds of these Hoosier State heavyweights, right?
RIFF RELEVANT [Pat]: The new self-titled full-length album has now been out for a while… what all feedback have you all been receiving on it?
Johnny Harrod: The feedback has been great from the digital release. We have been invited for interviews and been included on podcasts. It’s been great.
Terry McDaniel: The feedback has been more than we ever would have thought considering a year ago we were aged metal heads just wanting something to do on Sundays… it’s been fun!
RIFF RELEVANT [Pat]: Speaking of the new album, I garner a shift towards a more progressive style of music on it, when compared to the EP. If you agree with this notion, what would you all attribute that to? Is it a natural evolution or perhaps a conscious endeavor, etc.?
Johnny Harrod: Nothing was planned as far as direction of the full album. We think we picked the best songs to put on the three song EP to kind of launch the band.
Terry McDaniel: To be fair, that’s what I would expect from every album from here on out. We come from so many rock/metal backgrounds that doing and staying on one particular song style isn’t us. But the one constant you can always expect is our metal roots will always show strong. So, I wouldn’t expect to hear an acoustic album anytime to soon!
Jeff Cole: All the songs on the album were written around the same time. Some were still skeletons of songs when we went to record the EP. We kinda of found our sound In the studio doing those three tracks. So, finishing the writing part and recording the full length came a little easier because we now had a focus on what we wanted to do.
RIFF RELEVANT [Pat]: A lot of people are making comparisons of it to The Sword, other bands in general, as well. Do you take such opinions positively or not so?
Johnny Harrod: I don’t even listen to The Sword, so it had no influence on anything drum-wise.
Terry McDaniel: As a huge fan of The Sword its cool, but sometimes it’s also really nice to hear about the Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, DIO, and the early 80s thrash part of us. But you can’t help to take a positive away from those comparisons. That band has wrote, in my opinion, three GREAT metal albums.
RIFF RELEVANT [Pat]: How does the Wolftooth songwriting process work? Mind walking us through it a bit, about who brings what to the table and such?
Johnny Harrod: On my end, a lot of the songs have their parts going on. My strength is with arrangements and transitions.
Terry McDaniel: Pretty simple, really. Riff Master Chris brings his fire to us three and we rip in and throw it around. Johnny, Jeff, and I are more into the arrangement side of things.
RIFF RELEVANT [Pat]: Musical influences… who would you cite for the band itself, as well as you all individually?
Johnny Harrod: I have influences all across the board. John Bonham, for sure. It would be bad for me to exclude Lars Ulrich, as well. I’m not a flashy player, but these guys showed me how to be super solid and compliment the song.
Terry McDaniel: No question John Paul Jones, and Geezer Butler are my idea of perfect bass players… solid as it gets. No over taking of guitar parts… and stands in the shadow to help carry that sinister groove.
Jeff Cole: As far as the band goes, I’d say there’s some southern doom in there, NWOBHM, some thrash, and Sabbath, for sure. My influences are too many to name, but a few would be Trouble, Cathedral, Judas Priest, Paradise Lost, Iron Maiden, early Metallica, etc.
RIFF RELEVANT [Pat]: I mentioned the EP earlier. With all due respect, I believe Wolftooth’s public presence went from minimal to a mega increase in a short period, from then to now. Would you agree, and yes or no, what can you take away from such rapid growth… any pros or cons?
Johnny Harrod: We aren’t young dudes, but Wolftooth is a young band. We are big on networking and in just a few short months, we have met some of the most awesome people from all over the world. Taking our past experience in our other bands has definitely made the fast paced growth of Wolftooth easier to handle. Being featured on YouTube pages has been instrumental in getting the word out, as well. We have clocked in a total of almost 90K plays between two channels in just over a month. Keeping up with the fast paced momentum of growth is the hardest part of it, so far.
RIFF RELEVANT [Pat]: Part of that growth includes live offers, of course. You all recently supported your fellow Hoosier band Iced Earth, how was that experience? You all will also be playing Descendants Of Crom 2018… how do you all feel about THAT?
Johnny Harrod: The opportunity to open for Iced Earth came as a surprise to us. Something came up online that they were allowing a local to open the show and some fans were pushing our name out there for us and we got picked. It was a good experience and pretty wild, considering it was only our third show as Wolftooth.
We are all about playing the festivals. It will be an honor to play at DOC18 with some very good talent. Also its sponsored by Blackseed Records, which is responsible for the CD/cassette releases of the début album. We played a couple of the Texas festivals during SXSW, such as Stoner Daze and SX Stoner Jam.
RIFF RELEVANT [Pat]: Any other plans on the horizon for 2018?
Johnny Harrod: In April, the band released the CD version of the album through Blackseed Records and then on 4-20-18 (perfect) the vinyl released through Cursed Tongue Records. We are super excited for that one.
Terry McDaniel: Just to keep kicking down doors and riding out this first wave until we start writing album #2… we are a new music kinda band and always want to be writing or releasing.
Jeff Cole: We have a lot of cool shows lined up throughout the year including Doomed And Stoned Fest Indianapolis in October in addition to Descendants of Crom.
RIFF RELEVANT [Pat]: It’s my tradition to allow the subjects of my interrogations to have the last word… anything you all would like to state, share, rant about, whatever… this is all you!
Terry McDaniel: Just a big thanks to everyone who has helped push our music forward. All the fans who literally have been blowing our mailbox apart from all over parts of the globe. And to people like you who make us sound interesting… cheers!!
Thanks, Guys! I’m not sure to what degree I’m involved in helping WOLFTOOTH sound interesting, those guys seem to have that down rather nicely all on their own.
Remember, the full-length S/T WOLFTOOTH release is out NOW and available in various formats via the links above. Make sure to get out and catch them live, be it a regular show, Descendants Of Crom, wherever, the first opportunity you get.