Album Review: Blackwulf- Sinister Sides

Blackwulf is set to surpass the success of their last record, ‘Oblivion Cycle’, a Ripple Record release, with the explosive new release ‘Sinister Sides’. Coming out of Oakland, California, Blackwulf crafts a distinctly classic stoner metal landscape while offering a fresh take.

On this new one, the quartet presents eight impressive tracks of high energy, no nonsense stoner metal; a big part of these specific tonalities coming from their classic heavy metal edge. There are tinges of Black Label Society within the music, most notably some of the vocal efforts by vocalist Alex Cunningham. It isn’t distinctively ‘BLS’, but there’s enough of that specific flavor in the pounding riffage and melodically gritty vocals.

Speaking of the guitar work, the riffage on this record is top-notch; tip-top notch. The opening track ‘Gate of Sorrow’ smoothens you over with low-key stoner riffage supported by the (again), melodic vocals of Cunningham that hit impressive moments of grit which carry the track to peaks that seem to keep hitting a new ceiling as the track continues.

That’s simply regarding the first track, the entire eight-track album has a plethora of material to apply those same sentiments too. Not every track is a low-key burner like ‘Gate of Sorrow’; the title track ‘Sinister Sides’ pops in with moderately tempo’d, yet somehow still blazing riffage. It’s a wonder of the talent of Blackwulf that allows such magic into their music.

If you want to get into how magical of a touch Blackwulf has, then you need to go no further than their cover os Cream’s ‘Sunshine of Your Love’, which still maintains that psychedelic silk while importing flavors of stoner metal to create a truly worthwhile, if not masterful cover. The fluid drumming, the perfectly heavy guitar work, the melodic vocal-grit, all of the factors which make Blackwulf an already top-tier act funnel into this one specific song which highlights the impeccable talent of Blackwulf.

To close out the record, Blackwulf deftly places the thematically deep, and somewhat cinematic, ‘Battle Line’. There are political themes sprinkled throughout the record, such as the anti-elitest ‘Dead to the World’, the anti-exclusive ‘Blind to Fate’, but ‘Battle Lines’ really hits a deeper nerve. It has a really strong “brother will kill brother” vibe with lyrics that heed of the violence from divided peoples, and some of those people’s desire for this violence.

The album isn’t so thematically heavy, yet the power from this final track really asserts itself on another thematic level compared to the rest of the record. The message is powerful, the music is intense, and it overall creates a very striking vibe.

‘Sinister Sides’ by Blackwulf, is a big hit for the band. Each song is in a league of its own, and the final track caps off the rally with a Grand Slam. Do yourself a favor and expose yourself to the stoner magic and wonder that is ‘Sinister Sides’.

– by Ryan Falla

Rating: 9/10

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Record Label: Ripple Music
Release Date: February 23 2018

Track Listing:
1. Gate of Sorrow (6:16)
2. Sinister Sides (4:53)
3. Waiting on Tomorrow (4:06)
4. Dead to the World (4:51)
5. Blind to Fate (6:19)
6. The Tempest (4:49)
7. Sunshine of Your Love (3:38)
8. Battle Line (5:22)

Total Duration: 40:14

Blackwulf links: website | facebook | instagram