Wolfmen of Mars blew me away this past fall after they released Warp Suburbium, and they’ve done it again with their newest 8-track (long) transmission, Don’t Let It In. The album is slated for release on June 6th, but I and what looks like about a hundred other lucky fans got surprise access to the record ahead of time, via a special email sent to Bandcamp supporters of the band’s past records. Thanks, Wolfmen of Mars, but I’m not going easy on you for that.
The record’s first and title track opens with one of the most solid isolated drumbeats I’ve heard Wolfmen of Mars use in my listening adventures, and leads into a fuzzy, two-stepping riff train that will keep any newly risen mummy moving on the dance-floor. WOM’s trademark analog keyboard to kick in for just long enough to confirm that, yes, you are indeed listening to a Wolfmen of Mars record. After the greeting breaks, we’re led to the second track, which is my favorite on the album, “Kiss of the Broken Bottle”. A song with a very sneaky atmosphere, we’re introduced even harder to those characteristic keyboard notes that seem like they’d be a lot easier to translate into onomatopoeia than, I can tell you as I write this, they actually are. A swaying passage included makes this one of the most diverse sections of the album, which isn’t surprising as it clocks in at “second longest track on the album.”
Three tracks in, and we’re in the mood. “Ritual” is a textbook Wolfmen of Mars track. From the psychedelic guitar exploration signaling to space, to the droning, repetitive left-right-left bass-lines, there isn’t much room for experimentation, but that’s okay. Too much experimentation breeds inconsistency, which leads to a mess of a release. It’s comforting to know what you’re getting sometimes in a genre like this. Track fo- Wait. What the hell? Who the hell? Are these vocals on a new Wolfmen of Mars release? Track four’s “Welcome to Fear Theme” is a shock, until you realize it’s basically just a monologue, or introduction. The track is credited on the digital liner notes as being “also written and performed by Ron Rochondo”. Maybe we’ll learn some more about that later on.
Track 5, “Hallucinatoria” is, alongside track 8, one of the two heaviest and most intense tracks on the record. I honestly would have been 100% satisfied if the entire track was just the bangin’ opening riff that plays for a second before the smooth vocal sample “opens the door” into a wonky synth wonderland that leaves no room for wonder as to why the track is titled “Hallucinatoria”. “At the Barn” is the sixth and calmest track on the album, leading to my prying as to what kind of romance, or makeshift funeral, is occurring at the barn in question. After some bothersome, backmasking-esque whispers on the short interlude “Omens”, we arrive at our final destination, the suspenseful “Della Strega”. I won’t spoil what della strega translates to in Italian, but if the online translator was correct, it was right to remind me of a strange 1982 movie sequel that deserves more credit in horror collections than it has received. Either way, “Della Strega,” the longest and heaviest, and arguably the most intricate, track on the record, closes the night in signature Wolfmen of Mars fashion.
All in all, Don’t Let It In is a solid release that’s easy to digest and cut through in less than an hour. While it isn’t nearly as riff-heavy, nor seemingly as detailed as Warp Suburbium (which still leaves Warp as my favorite release), it still maintains the audio assault we come to expect from the Massachusetts outfit. As usual, it’s a fun soundtrack with themes that conjure memories of retro, classic spooks from the likes of Pumpkinhead to The Amityville Horror. It’s a record that will leave you looking over your shoulder for the rest of the night, and that’s a good record to me.
Don’t Let It In drops world wide on the outfit’s Bandcamp page on June 6th.