Album Review: Wild Throne
Blood Maker EP
Brutal Panda Records
Formerly known as Dog Shredder, the debut EP from Bellngham’s Wild Throne, (which features Josh Holland on guitar and vocals, Noah Burns on drums and Jeff Johnson on bass) is one of the best releases to come out of Bellingham over the last year and possibly the last decade. Bombastic and punishing songwriting, intense musicianship and great sound, it’s a release local music fans will be talking about for years to come.
I will never forget the first time I saw Cicadas, the earliest incarnation of the band – I had booked them for a show eight years ago at the 3B. While I hadn’t heard them yet, friends I knew, friends I respected, said they were fantastic and I’d known Josh from Future City Fear, so I figured it was a safe pick. When the band began, I was instantly blown away – I can only remember a handful of times in the 20+ years of watching local music that a band affected me that way – an immediate, visceral reaction. They were intense, brutal, extremely talented and they helped reinvigorated me with the magazine at a time I really needed it. Simply put, I was in heaven, ‘cuz they ruled.
Over the years the band lost original bass player Ben Kahn, who was replaced by Jeff Johnson and with that, changed their name to Dog Shredder. The continued to grow – they wrote, they toured and continued to hone their metal prog blender sound. The trio released the much loved Brass Tactics, but as they grew, the bands sound began to change, develop and mature. It became less linear – getting from point a to point b no longer looked like seismic activity – songs were being developed. Over this time, Josh spent months on the road with Hyro Da Hero – touring all over the world. While in Los Angeles, he had the good fortune of meeting producer Ross Robinson (Korn, The Cure) and was able to slip him the Dog Shredder record. After hearing some more demos recorded with Peter Hilleary that showed their songwriting prowless, Ross offered to record ‘em.
The result of those sessions are the band’s latest release, Blood Maker. Now going under the moniker Wild Throne (they had moved past the Dog Shredder days), Blood Maker shows a band reaching a new level of songwriting and sound. The three song EP is unlike anything else that has come from a Bellingham band if for no other reason, it sounds spectacular – it’s huge, punishing and bombastic. But it doesn’t stop there – the songs sound like real songs, not an attempt send the listener into a mindmeld (not that that it was a bad thing).
“The Wrecking Ball Unchained” kicks off with EP with drummer Noah Burns pounding out a tribal esque rythmn with singer/guitarist Josh Holland adding in vocals – the calm before the storm. A half minute or so into the song, Wild Throne erupt into a bombastic punk/metal hybrid with the rhythm section of Noah and Jeff anchoring the mayhem while Josh flies on the guitar. Over the next six and a half minutes, the trio highlights their amazing growth in songwriting with the song pulling back at just the right times and pushing forward to bring the most out of it. The most surprising highlight is Josh’s vocals which have fantastic range and great effect. “Shadow Desserts” follow with a more straight forward take on their sound – less epic and more punch you in the face and something that wouldn’t be surprising at all to be heard on a cool radio station. “Blood Maker” rounds out the three songs, a bit slower but no less intense and crushing. The bands dynamics and sound really come into play with Josh’s intense vocal delivery again being the highlight.
Blood Maker is simply amazing with its only draw back being it’s only three songs. The songs are amazing, the musicianship is amazing and the SOUND is amazing. Looking forward to seeing a full length from the boys.