A very peculiar name for a band playing a very peculiar brand of music. Tommy Stewart has a long history with extreme metal, and is perhaps most famous for being the sole constant member of thrashers Hallow’s Eve, a band with which he has released numerous records on Metal Blade records and elsewhere. When he’s not into thrashing, however, Mr. Stewart is into dooming. After releasing a solo album under his own name in 2015, he has now teamed up with drummer Eric Vogt to redefine, or perhaps reinforce, the fundamental principles of doom metal.
Performed with only drums, bass and vocals Tommy Stewart’s Dyerwulf could perhaps have been a rather flat affair. That is not the case. Drawing on early genre classics, think Black Sabbath’s proto-doom stuff, and think even harder of Candlemass’ Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, rather than more fashionable stoner or funeral doom variants, this album still has a very distinct style. The low number of instruments is compensated by a superbly extreme bass sound – it is highly likely that there is one hell of a pedal chain involved, but even so the sound is consistent and (almost) not at all psychedelic. In other words: apart from the slightly wailing vocals and the pounding drums, you’re pretty much left with a bass sounding like a bass – an awesome, crusted, hyperdistorted and at times almost noisy bass – but still a lonely bass.
Obviously, it would be very difficult for any but the most seasoned musicians to pull something like this off. These are such musicians, though, and while the album doesn’t click 100% of the time, it comes close. Often the sound is pure, 80’s doom metal – “Behold! Your World Now Burns” could well be an early Candlemass track – and in those cases you don’t really think of the instrumental limitation the band has placed upon itself. Sometimes, soft and atmospheric pieces like the opening drones of “Through a Dead Man’s Eye” leave you stunned at what can be accomplished by a skilled bass player if he puts his mind and pedals to it.
As if Mr. Stewart knew all along that his promo agency would submit this to Archaic Triad, there are also a few instances of outright insanity. “The Man That Sold Ropes to the Gnoles” does not only sport one of the best song titles of any doom metal track ever, but also consists of something sounding very much like rehearsal space improv by people who do not frown on heavier mind bending substances. Double kick drum, bass outbursts and a general loony bin atmosphere do not make this track our absolute favorite, but it does add some great flavor to an overall great album.
Tommy Stewart’s Dyerwulf takes doom metal back to its dirty, heavy and slow roots – reducing the genre to heaviness, distortion, bass and mourning heavy metal vocals. There is plenty of technical skill and composition know-how behind these songs, but it is packaged in a brutal, raw shell of primitivism that makes it one hell of a lot more attractive than any board room-type production could have. There are no compromises here, just a vision and a great collaborative effort of two guys doing what they do best. Heavily, doomily recommended.