It’s not every day you get to put (sic) next to a band’s name, but Wardehns (sic) is just that group of troubadours. Spelling twattery aside, this Wisconsin trio’s self-released debut album, Now Cometh The Foul is a thing of beauty; its angry Sludge much akin to High On Fire via Entombed via, err, Alexisonfire, but in a good way.
Opening instrumental ‘Crustacean’ sets the tone with a rising crescendo of fury underpinned with melancholy and grandeur. When the guitars and drums finally kick in, you get the sense that something rather good is about to smack you in the head. And when the thunderous hook storms in after them, you rejoice safe in the knowledge that it does.
Things really kick off, however, with track three, ‘Denim Dogs’, which is, simply, the bollocks. A simple, focussed, and viciously joyous anthem, it stomps you with its tempo, and enthrals you with its mighty riffs. When the solo erupts, you know they’ve earned the right to have one. Hell, they’ve earned the right to several, but the song’s real stroke of genius is to stick to that winning formula and make you want to jump about the room like an angry toddler.
The unenviable task of following that one up is ‘Gills’, which still does a rather good job of it. Its reply is relentless riffing and a short, simple focus on brutal beats and shrieking malice, before suddenly lurching into a surprisingly rousing surge of wistfulness and rage.
This mix of the savage and the sombre carries on to track six, ‘Leech Head’, which broods and threatens in equal measure with its opening chords and drum beats, before the crushing and then the screaming finally blasts off. For all this, it’s a slower, more measured and yet relentlessly harsh song, its simple core hook use used to forge a far more circumspect sound than before.
Speeding things back up is the next track, ‘Fangs’, which crushes away merrily, with an excellent use of vocal effects and a manic pace, just in case you thought they had slowed down a bit too much. Then album finale ‘Stench Of The Gnorthe’ plays it out in style, by drawing together the rest of the album’s strengths into one last emotive blowout. It’s all visceral good fun.
Naturally, you could make the point that the album doesn’t stray as far from its formula as it could have, or that it peaks with ‘Denim Dogs’ and never quite matches it again. But that’s a bit like saying the rest of a Belgian Bun is crap because it isn’t a cherry. In summary, this album is sick in all the right ways. Or should that be (sic)?
8 / 10