Review Summary: First of all, if you aren't immediately attracted to this album by the name; you're either a complete idiot, a total pansy, or Silverfang.
Every once in a while you’ll trip over a great band. There'll be a song you heard about, a band your friend talks about or just a random group you'll stumble over while dragging lazily through the internet or a garage sale. You'll listen for about five seconds before you realize that you've stumbled onto a musical goldmine. For me, Wolfchant is that band.
After I finished with Bloody Tales of Disgraced Lands, I didn't move on to get A Pagan Storm, instead I backtracked, searching for the supposedly "sold out” demos. My search took me straight to The Fangs of Southern Death.
Overall, TFOSD is not as neat and tidy as BTODL or APS, but that's to be expected with demo albums. Unfortunately, poor production gives the bass guitar an extremely limited window, and for the most part it’s drowned out by heavily distorted guitars. To be honest though, it’s not much of a loss, and the old bassist Gaahnt didn't last long anyways.
The one thing that truly stands out about this album is how different it is from the rest of Wolfchant's discography Instead of being built around melodic folk riffs and broken up with refined acoustic interludes, TFOSD is a more basic approach to Melodic Death Metal with the slightest touch of the Epic Folk riffs that make Wolfchant a standout.
The guitar is easily the greatest aspect of TFOSD. In more recent albums, Derrmorh employs a deep, and lead heavy rhythm tone to support the clean lead tones of Skaahl, but in TFOSD he employs a much faster and more growly sound with an emphasis on high gain. Skaahl's leads have generally the same feel as in later albums but they are much rougher around the edges and his tone has a lot more bite. Many impressive lead fills can be heard throughout tracks like "In a Cold Winter Night" and "Fenrir." The only piece of the guitar missing from this album is the acoustics. There's no acoustic fills in TFOSD, save for the jangly and haunting melodies of "The Ballad of the Elder" and the opener of "In a Cold Winter Night."
Vocally, TFOSD is a lot more than I expected. Lohki's distinctive throat-ripping scrowl tears through the majority of this album without relent or remorse. His deep and guttural growls are much more powerful than in later albums and add a very dark edge to the music, particularly in "Fenrir." However, the greatest vocal performance of his album comes in "The Ballad of the Elder." He slows down his screaming speed until it’s almost at a standstill and drawls the song through four minutes of melodious bliss. Props to the man who can scream through an acoustic song and not end up sounding like a troubled teenager.
The last key element of this album is the drums. Norgahd isn't the most talented drummer ever, but his fills support the guitars to an incredible degree. The drumming seamlessly brings everything together making each song flow like water.
I guess the most surprising thing about Wolfchant, is that they had to release another self-funded demo before they were signed. The only thing that prevents this album from being a classic in my eyes is the muddy production. Other than that, this album is a masterpiece, plain and simple and it’s a thousand times better than anything else in the genre at this moment it time. Folk Metal at its best.
The Ballad of the Elder
The Desire of a Wolf
Fenrir- Formed by Fire