A distinctly old-school current winds through Wolves & Trees, the five-song debut by Raleigh quartet Bedowyn. It's in the meaty riffs that drive these songs—hardened alloys of Sabbath groove and mid-era COC thrash—and in Alex Traboulsi's gruff but not guttural bark. He forgoes inhuman texture for enunciated authority. This retro affection even extends to the band's merchandise, which now features a colorblock baseball tee with psychedelic typography atop an assortment of skulls (human and goat, mind you) and pentagrams.
The local metal scene is already crowded with faithful revivalists. Bedowyn, however, earns its keep with a near-heretical fluidity of styles. Touches of metal's more extreme variants complement the band's accessible approach. Backing vocals on "Evil/Right" screech like a shouldered devil, suggesting black metal vitriol atop a mean gallop. And while they'd never be confused for a style-over-substance tech-metal act, Bedowyn doesn't shy from instrumental ambition. Wordless opener "Bisha'a," for instance, is a strong collection of riffs that carry enough momentum to stretch across four minutes. Thematically and texturally, the shipwreck tale of "O'Bitter Sea" wouldn't feel out of place on Mastodon's Leviathan.
More often than not, these stitched-together influences combine the more inviting and exciting attributes of their respective subgenres. "Snarling of Beasts," the EP's most approachable tune, manages a steady build that alludes to Metallica in its swollen dynamics and High on Fire in its understated melody. When Traboulsi bellows, "We are Armageddon," he wields the line as a hook, not a hammer. Bedowyn neither abides strictly by trad-metal tropes nor falls victim to brutal banality. They walk the line between it all and settle upon a familiar but invigorated beginning.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Overdue payoffs, new promises."