2018 has already been a standout year for melodic death metal – In Vain, Mors Subita, and genre masters Omnium Gatherum provide a choice selection of what has already dropped. Now, Wolfheart release Constellation Of The Black Light, seven tracks of self-proclaimed “Winter metal” which match their Finnish surroundings. Born back in 2013, when songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Tuomas Saukkonen disbanded previous projects Before The Dawn and Black Sun Aeon, Wolfheart are the blend of the former’s straight up melodeath and the latter’s doom tinges, and are now a well established act in their own right on their fourth release in five years.
The flagship track of the album is opener “Everlasting Fall”; a ten minute plus epic that works as a perfect showpiece of Saukkonen’s songwriting throughout his seventeen album career. Kicking off much like previous album Tyhjyys, acoustic guitars are met by orchestral strings before kicking into Wolfheart’s now trademark sound of Saukkonen’s rhythm guitar matching Joonas Kauppinen’s blast beats in the verse, with instrumental breaks and chorus overlaid by lead guitarist Mika Lammassaari’s rich, reverb-heavy lead lines. “Everlasting Fall” is textbook melodeath of the uppermost standard.
The remainder of the album hits the balance between extreme metal and doom romance that the band proclaim as their hunting ground. In many places, such as on “Breakwater”, the cadence is somewhat slower than on other Wolfheart releases; an improvement on some previous work which was occasionally too frantic to allow the melody and groove to shine through. In fact, as the album progresses past its opening epic, Constellation Of The Black Light shows a style more reminiscent of Before The Dawn than has been shown on previous Wolfheart recordgins; a pleasant opportunity to reminisce on their quality brought to life and built upon in this recent release.
Check out the video for “Breakwater” below, the first release from Constellation Of The Black Light.
The remainder of the album continues to hit hard with Saukkonen’s guttural vocals over the layers of distorted guitar and strings as would be expected, while quieter piano and acoustic breaks make a welcome contrast. You’d be hard-pressed to find a melodeath fan who couldn’t find something to make them bang their head on Constellation Of The Black Light, with the grandiose opening track giving way to six sub-six minute tracks, each a standalone statement reinforcing Wolfheart’s credibility as one of the strongest and most consistent groups in the genre.
However, herein lies the one issue with Constellation Of The Black Light. Once “Everlasting Fall” has concluded, the rest of the release fails to reach the exceptionally high bar it sets. The remainder is upper tier melodeath, but still, it suffers in comparison to the potential exhibited in the first song. Had that style and calibre been continued through the whole album, this review would instead have been describing a genre-defining benchmark, rather than the merely great album Constellation Of The Black Light is.
On the whole, Constellation Of The Black Light is Wolfheart’s strongest outing to date – certainly containing their finest ever individual track in “Everlasting Fall” which I can’t wait to hear live when they hit the road later this year – and it’s an incredible sign of promise that it could have been even better. It’s an excellent contributor to what has been a superb year for melodic death metal, and deserves to sit alongside those releases mentioned earlier, as well as the best albums released in the metal genre as a whole in 2018.
The cutting new, recently released track is “The Saw”; check the video out below.
Constellation Of The Black Light Track Listing:
01. Everlasting Fall
03. The Saw
04. Forge With Fire
Run Time: 41:55
Release Date: September 28, 2018
Record Label: Napalm Records