Reviews are biased. Always have been, always will be. We try our best to not let our likes and dislikes of particular styles within our genre of choice affect our new album reviews, but subconsciously they always do. With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get to this motherfucker shall we?
Wolves is a metal band that hails from Port Jervis, NY. Yeah, never heard of them either, but that’s what Metal Mofos is all about, finding that quality unsigned metal played by mature metal mofos. I’ll say it right now, based on the quality of the work alone, these guys fit the bill and deserve to be heard and recognized. There is very little to NOT recommend musically from this band, they have all the elements that fit my criteria for great metal:
- Melody? Check
- Riffage? Check
- Good vocals? Check
- Passion? Check
- Heaviness? Check
- Great drumming? Check
I’m not going to leave you in suspense about whether I like the jams, I do, and yes, it’s worth your hard earned cash. No need to force you to read the rest of this review. Get the music if what I just outlined is harmonious with what you like. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s dissect this motherfucker.
Frankly, I don’t know shit about this band (I hope to learn more after they respond to my interview request), and I only discovered them through a message on my Facebook page (yeah yeah, its becoming a theme). They sent a link to a song they put up on Soundcloud and I was duly impressed. I was glad to hear they were about to release a four song EP as I felt this band had some serious potential. The result was Embers. This EP proved to me that these guys are for real, and that they definitely have the makings of a recognizable style. Definitely not the cookie cutter screamo shit that some stupidly call “metal” nowadays.
The band members are as follows:
Jesse – Vocals
Matt – Guitar
Dennis – Bass
Derrek – Drums
The first song is Ship In A Storm. It starts with a clean guitar intro and a spoken verse by who I could only guess is the singer. Honestly it started out a little suspect, but then it kicks into a killer heavy groove and the song blossoms into a very good metal song, with a slow to mid tempo beat that breaks into a powerful chorus. The vocals are clean in the verse, and aggressive in the chorus (not quite screamo or a growl), it works fairly well. Now, to be honest, I would not have opened with this song as I prefer something with more drive to start off an album with, but its not a bad choice, and the song itself is good.
The second song is Run, which I link below. This is the song this EP should have started with. This song has drive, intent, groove, power, and is a memorable tune. It has impact. It sticks to the mind. And it has a very simple, clever, and catchy intro that instantly grabs you. This, my friends, is superior writing. Great fucking metal song.
The third song is Embers, in my opinion the best song on the EP. There is speed to this song, powerful vocals throughout, and great drumming. It has several twists and turns but it works very well. Why does this song appeal to me more than the others? A big part of it is the vocals. They are mostly consistent throughout the song, with the vocalist sticking to his “power” voice, and not once going into one of the clean breaks he does in the other songs. It makes this song much more focused even though it probably has the most sonic, tempo, and rhythmic changes of all the songs. Fucking excellent tune. Just fucking great. This song elevates the band to the elite level, and frankly is better than alot of what I hear from signed bands with a big budget and marketing behind them.
Walls is the song that closes out the EP. It’s also the longest one, running at 6:27. This one is not as strong as the others, but is still a good song. It fits that long, moody, progressive feel of bands like Opeth and Mastodon. High praise indeed, I know, but it definitely projects that feel. It also has a nice solo that has uses a phase/wah wah effect that fits the overall theme of the song really well. This EP doesn’t have enough solos, but the ones that are there are well done. Nothing technically astounding, just a good feel to them.
In closing I’ll add a few more things that I feel need to be noted that covers the overall style of the band. First, don’t expect shredding solos, they aren’t there, the true greatness of the guitar work comes in the writing of the riffs, the layering of the disparate guitar parts, and the great use of chords throughout. It’s a songwriter writing through his guitar, not a guitar player writing a song. He’s got a lot of Alex Lifeson in his guitar playing. Second, the play between the drums and bass is well done, there is an underlying groove there, and bass player is no slouch, he plays his part as he’s supposed to, holding down that bottom, and establishing the groove at the heartbeat level. Third, the drumming itself is great, and in my opinion, the musical high point of this release. Don’t expect death metal double bass, that’s played out shit at this point. No, this is REAL drumming where groove takes hold, with spurts of speed here and there, and the occasional showboat drum roll. I have no doubt the guy could play at much faster double bass speeds, but its not needed here. Fourth, I’m not a fan of screamo metal vocalist, and the vocalist here mostly avoids that, though he does do the whole aggressive/clean back and forth thing, something I don’t think works well in metal for the most part. That said, he’s got a really good strong voice, there’s power there, and though sometimes it borders on screamo, it still kicks ass for the most part. Dude’s definitely moving in the right direction, he just needs to find his “voice” as they say. Check him out on the song Embers, he stands out there. I hope he does more songs like that, and moves stylistically in that direction.
Now to the production. It’s good, but this isn’t a multi-million dollar budget release here, so for what they’ve done, it’s good. My primary gripe with this being that it sounds somewhat compressed, it takes away from the dynamics and makes the guitar sound slightly muddled at parts. But as a first release the production works, so don’t let that be a deterrent. The production is good enough so that you get all the emotion and feel they are trying to project.
Overall the band has a strong progressive metal feel to them, not necessarily in the technical sense but definitely in the songwriting sense. Frankly, this is an impressive debut. I hope to hear more from these guys, and I’m eager to watch them develop and grow. Check out their song Run below.
If you’re interested in buying their stuff, you can contact them via their Facebook page, its $5 a CD, $6.50 shipped: https://www.facebook.com/WolvesNY/info
Carlos aka ShortNUgly