If the “ex-members of Dopefight” doesn’t get you, the repurposed nod to “Symptom of the Universe” that launches headfirst into grinding punk probably will. Brighton-based trio War Wolf, who will release their Riding with Demons debut 10″ on Headless Guru Records early in 2013, are not shy in their intent, and their intent is bludgeoning. As someone who was genuinely bummed at the demise of Dopefight earlier this fall, to see two out of the three members emerge with new material so quickly is like they hardly missed a beat. I haven’t done a side-by-side comparison with Dopefight‘s last demos, but War Wolf definitely has their own personality.
That personality? More punk, more abrasive vocally, less stoned, more given to fits of grinding like the one noted above, which comes early into Riding with Demons on the track “Stench of Death.” More mosh-ready hardcore. But there remains a propensity every now and again to slow things to an excruciating crawl and bask in sounding as fucked up as possible, which is nothing if not consistent. Riding with Demons is short, but it’s a bold mission statement nonetheless, like what earliest Hatebreed might have been if it ever put on a Vitus record, or like a drunkard’s Napalm Death.
Either way, it’s fucking heavy and the trio find room to work a political bent as well, sampling former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair talking about the start of the Iraq War on “Liberation” before nailing the d-beat on closer “Slain Deity,” which is positively sprawling at 2:18. I’m about the least-likely proponent of hardcore-based anything you’re going to find, but with the sense of extremity underlying most of Riding with Demons, War Wolf prove they’re not going for any kind of tough-guy pose-out, and they’re a little too reckless to tie completely to one genre or another. Let’s hope they stay that way.