Werewolves - What a Time to be Alive (Cover Artwork)


What a Time to be Alive (2021)

Prosthetic Records

Melbourne, Australia’s Werewolves don’t fuck about. That’s not an opinion, it’s just a fact. The band, born in 2019 and made up of 3 current and former members of about a hundred other bands, released their first full-length dose of black metal-tinged deathly blitzkreig “The Dead Are Screaming” on the world a mere year later. In April to be precise, via Prosthetic Records. So 9 months later, releasing sophomore album “What a Time to Be Alive” rather validates my opening statement. But it rings true in their musical approach, too.

As I alluded to, there are undeniable blackened aspects of Werewolves work; a vocal that is often rasped but frequently intelligible, ferocity and speed in the guitar work and also some of the chord progressions (“Sublime Wartime Voyeurism” is a great example), and maybe predictably, some of their themes. But to me they’re as close to being a slam band as a black metal band. There’s a knowing knuckle-headedness to their music that feels entirely the reserve of the death-metal sub-genre that people love to hate. You need look no further than the album or song titles. The album title is of course an ironic utilisation of a quasi-meme, and is far from the silliest part of the record. Other song titles like “Crushgasm” and “Unfathomably Fucked” are, maybe unsurprisingly, rather one-note in their approach and although a lot of fun, are not really diverse enough to warrant further comment. And therein lies the issue with this record and Werewolves output to date. It’s fun. It’s fast. It’s tongue-in-cheek. It’s technically impressive. But I don’t get much out of it that makes me want to come back. Sadly, whereas some slam bands also have that ‘curio’ aspect to them cause they’re so absurd in composition and delivery, Werewolves are clearly in on the joke, but their joke is sufficiently subtle and self-aware that it doesn’t always hit that same mark.

Maybe I’m being really harsh here. They’ve been around for 2 years, have produced 2 full-length albums in that time, both released on a prominent label. I also imagine seeing them live would be an absolute fucking blast (have I mentioned I miss live shows?) but even if you take this as it’s presented and allowing for the environment it was conceived in, then the lack of dynamism is quite stark. They’re clearly not trying to be Blood Incantation and they shouldn’t have to, but maybe lean a little more frequently on the abilities they evidently have for crafting more diverse songs, like in closer “They Will Pay With Their Own Blood”. There’s a cessation of the breakneck pace, the guitar (which never really alters its tone) takes on a ‘black and roll’ quality that adds a cool new dimension and as the song passes through its various differing sections with lo-fi spoken word, folk-metal tinges and then coming home to the swirling black/death vortex that the band call home, you remember that their style can have huge impact. When it’s used in a way that’s not the bedrock, the zenith and the nadir of every song. That being said, I can’t pretend I didn’t raise a smile at some of the childish audio clips peppered between songs. The rather eloquent ‘Get out of my fucking way you...cunt!’ Is probably a better microcosmic explanation of this record than my entire review, so fuck it. Werewolves gonna Werewolf. (Werewolve?)