The Grey Wolves – Blood and Sand LP 2014 Cold Spring Records
Not constituting a new album, this represents a welcomed reissue of this classic yet subdued album from The Grey Wolves on the most important of physical formats – vinyl! So for those late to the party, ‘Blood and Sand’ originally constituted half of a split cassette release from 1990 on Old Europa Cafe (Shock City was the other obscure project featured on the other half). In hindsight what is rather special about The Grey Wolves side is that it showcased an atmospheric industrial noise style, rather than the politically charged, heavy power electronics sound the project are most recognised for. This vinyl version is the second edition issued via Cold Spring Records who originally reissued the tape on CD in 2002. For this latest edition the artwork has been slightly reinterpreted and the sound further boosted via further remastering.
As for the music, two lengthy track are presented (one each side of the vinyl), which spans an album of nearly an hour’s play time. For the first title track ‘Desert Storm’ is a slow moving and tensely brooding piece containing sweeping sounds, throbbing rhythms and indecipherable radio voices which flits between semi-structure and a free form flow. This amalgam of disparate elements are then layered in such way to generate a tense yet muted modern technological warfare styled atmosphere. The second piece ‘Gulf Breeze’ takes a similar tactic of wielding a tensile and caustic tone, yet does introduce (late in the piece) a heavily processed guitar/ kit drums based element within the noise layers.
With its suffocating battlefield ambience mixed with its atmospheric noise inclinations, one of the greatest aspects of this album is a threatening undercurrent of aggression, with a sense it is ready to burst forth from the speakers in full sonic warfare at any moment. Whilst this aural obliteration never entirely eventuates, ‘Blood and Sand’ is no less of a release without it and highlights the tensile atmosphere which has been expertly created. As such ‘Blood and Sand’ functions as a prefect example of the lesser know atmospheric noise side of The Grey Wolves.