There is a distinctly metallic flavour to this hardcore, with plenty of satisfying breakdowns and unrelenting aggression paired with beefy, muscular riffs that throw off the salt tang of sweat. The riffs structures swing between dirty punk, classic hardcore and the odd bit of death metal, especially in the snaking leads. The rhythms gallop along furiously as well, never offering a moment's respite.
Damned can be seen as less of an anguished cry or a thrashing in pain as a revelling in it. The misery that Wolfbrigade encapsulate here is celebratory, savoured with a kind of masochistic glee. “On Your Knees...In Misery,” is just having too much fun wallowing in that despair, and Wolfbrigade drag that song around by the hair. In the lyrics, the tormentor and the tormented frequently seem to be conflated, and also seem to be having equal amounts of fun regardless of whether they are enacting violence or suffering it.
While most of the songs on Damned are short, sharp tracks, “Ride The Steel” is more surprising. With its moody lead in and throbbing pace, it takes its time and develops into a surprisingly complex and emotive track, which became the highlight of the album for me. There is a lot to be said about the short, sharp, machine gun blast tracks that make up most of the album, but Wolfbrigade also exhibit some versatility. While they're masters of the genre when fast and claustrophobic, I wish they gave themselves more time and room more often, because the results are stunning.
(released April 24th 2012 on Southern Lord)