The merging point between different styles is always a good place to hunt for new sounds and distinct acts. However, several of these intersections require a certain ear or taste and some of them are downright antagonizing. Among these spaces is the unique meeting point between hardcore, alternative rock and metal. Spawning such diverse acts as Audioslave, Stolas or This Routine Is Hell, to the outsider this unique place is filled with hard to pin down vocals, deceptively repetitive riffs and a weird shift between anger and melancholy. All these descriptions fit Norwegians Wolves Like Us, as they emanate from a core that is both sad and pissed off at the same time. Blending all the above influences into one dark mix, their sophomore effort is a tightly wound, brimful of energy.
Black Soul Choir represents a definite step forward for the band. Their previous album, Late Love, is much darker and grittier. While this might be counted as a disadvantage for some listeners, there is no doubting the allure created by the production on the recent album. The rough edges of the hardcore influences clash head on with smooth bass tones, clearly presented drums and pristine dual guitar tracks. These shift between the hardcore touches mentioned above while constantly drawing on more mainstream influences such as Nirvana or Alice In Chains.
The vocals complete this grunge-like picture. Tracks like ‘I Don’t Want To Be Forgiven’ or ‘When Will We Ever Sleep’ display both the singing and the instruments in their grungiest. The bass in particular takes the part characteristic to this style, maintaining the overall structure of the song while the guitar, laden with reverb and other fuzzyness, explores with multiple solos and bridges. The vocals in the verse are almost spoken, understated in their emotional weight, while during the choruses they are emotive and drawn out, driving home the overall aural texture of the track.
As the album progresses however, the trappings of grunge are fast left behind, as the band sinks deeper into the depression and apathy that is at the base of their effort. Tracks like ‘Dig With Your Hands’ or ‘We Were Blood’ utilize a similar structure to the tracks above but substitute the high energy bridges and choruses for more drawn out passages that justify the post-metal we referred to in the beginning of this review. These pieces hark back to their first release, channeling heavier influences and slightly moving away from hardcore. It’s interesting to note at this point that the catchy riffs do not disappear all-together but rather coincide with the more expansive parts, reminding one of a slightly less stoner version of Floor.
The closing track of this album, ‘Thanatos Wins Again’ is a well placed farewell. It clocks in at nearly eight minutes, nearly twice more than any other track on the album. In it, from epic beginning through the tumultuous middle passage with its excellent vocals, the post metal influences take over. It is a fitting closer to this album, neatly tying off the progression of styles: from hardcore to grunge and all the way to post metal, Black Soul Choir is a prime example of what can be created when different styles are blended using thematic foundations to anchor them into a convincing whole.
Wolves Like Us – Black Soul Choir gets…