We haven’t exactly been quiet about Monster Riff swinging closer to true Stoner Rock and Desert Rock than Stoner Metal and Doom Metal—however you want to define those spaces. Those just happen to be our comfort zones.
With that in mind, Monster Riff was built for bands like Wolfnaut, the infectious, hook-laden Desert Rock band out of Norway.
Thanks to their blend of classic Metal bands and Stoner Rock heroes, Wolfnaut has carved out a fuzz-rich sound that is as heavy as it is catchy and as bombastic as it is carefully crafted.
Their latest album, III, is an exciting thrill ride packed with thrilling guitars and melodies you’ll hum until the morning light.
The Norwegian band has actually been around since the ‘90s, when they were going by a four-pieced named “Wolfgang.” Even back then, the band focused on building melodic, hook-filled songs, while blending the heaviness of early Metal giants like Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, and Iron Maiden with the textures of Stoner bands like Kyuss and Sleep. As Wolfgang, the band released “Welcome to the Cactus Mountains” in 1998 and “Castle in the Woods” in 2016.
Today, Wolfnaut is:
- Tor Erik Hagen – Bass
- Ronny “Ronster” Kristiansen – Drums
- Kjetil Sæter – Guitars, Vocals & Percussion
On III, additional musicians include:
- Øyvind “Albatross” Sjøli – Vocals on “Raise the Dead”
- Erlend Buflod – Guitar solo on “Raise the Dead”
- Bjørn Barstad – Moog on “Wolfnaut”
True to the band’s Rock ‘n’ Roll roots, III was largely recorded live in the studio, with drums, bass, and rhythm guitars recorded simultaneously in one take. The album was originally released to the Doom Charts’ fanfare on October 15, 2021, before the band decided to add some finishing touches and re-release it on January 21, 2022.
The album was recorded at Audioskop in Sofiemyr, Norway, engineered and edited by Bjørn Barstad, and mixed and mastered by Karl Daniel Lidén. Photos were provided by Al-x, and design and art direction were led by Morten Budeng.
III Album Review
Release Date: January 21, 2022
Track 1 – Swing Ride
“Swing Ride” roars to life slowly—gradually passing over the horizon and approaching like “Thumb” on Blues for the Red Sun. With its fuzzy guitars, thumping bass line, and crashing drums, this track is packed with a unanimous swagger from the entire band—a glimpse of what’s to come throughout III.
Track 2 – Feed Your Dragon
A track about channeling your dark side without getting caught, the choppy, deliberate riff in the verse makes “Feed Your Dragon” a tense listen, as if you were marching off to face your own dragon.
Track 3 – Raise the Dead
Rushing forward in a wave of fuzz, frantic strings, and urgent vocals, “Raise the Dead” runs like a motorcycle ripping over the highway. Here, Sæter adds a dash of extra distortion to his voice, resulting in some heavier masculinity on an already aggressive track.
Track 4 – Race to the Bottom
“Race to the Bottom” isn’t a filler track by any means, but its slower speed makes it feel like a palette cleanser after the quick first three tracks. Slightly more mythical and mature than its predecessors, Wolfnaut relies on silence and space as much as instrumentation here, and that occasionally makes “Race to the Bottom” sound a bit like The Sword.
Track 5 – Gesell Kid
“Gesell Kid” is the perfect anthem for the last two years. A song about apathy in the midst of chaos, “Gesell Kid” returns the album to Wolfnaut’s quick riffs and beautiful melodies, and it even features an expansive, near-psychedelic guitar solo.
Track 6 – Taste My Brew
With its fun, fuzzy riff and upbeat feel, “Taste My Brew” is a Wolfnaut-styled party song—one with a chorus an entire bar could sing late on a Friday night. “Taste My Brew” is strong enough that it could have easily received the single treatment.
A sort of exploratory epic in the vein of Iron Maiden or The Sword, “Catching Thunder” is dedicated to the brave team at Sea Shepherd, an organization that defends marine wildlife from poachers and unsustainable fishing practices.
Track Eight – Wolfnaut
By far the heaviest song on the album, “Wolfnaut” is a sudden turn into the Doom of Black Sabbath or Sleep, sending deep, reverberating riffs deep into the depths of hell over an 8-minute space odyssey. Although the song concludes on a cacophony of intricately layered psychedelic guitars, it’s the final lyric of this track that really makes it stand out:
“Hey Wolfnaut, did you sell your soul,
the day you fell on rock ‘n’ roll?”
Final Score: 9/10
Standout Tracks: “Swing Ride,” “Feed Your Dragon,” “Taste My Brew”
Pros: III is a powerful comeback demonstrating the band’s impressive chops as a three-piece. A fun and occasionally lighthearted Fuzz Rock album, III is also packed with enough grit and Desert Rock attitude to deserve numerous relistens. And although this album does have strong Desert Rock vibes, it’s also versatile enough to occasionally please Psychedelic fans.
Just as important: There is little to no fluff on this album. Each song is intentional and unique, and Wolfnaut wisely concludes the album at only eight tracks instead of feeling the need to squeeze a little more onto the buffet.
Cons: There’s not much to complain about here, especially with III being Wolfnaut’s strongest album yet (when compared to their work as Wolfgang).