Artist: Wolves At The Gate
Number of Tracks: 12
Release Date: 10 June 2014
Label: Solid State Records
Released on 10 June, VxV (pronounced Five by Five) is the sophomore effort from Ohio post-hardcore group, Wolves At The Gate (WATG).
As the band’s name suggests, this album’s bite is just as brutal as its bark. After a hauntingly desperate sounding introductory track, VxV turns the volume up past 11 as Wake Up punches into action, epitomising the sonic qualities of WATG from the off. Soaring guitar riffs and solos are ever-present, allowing for little respite as the vocals of Steve Cobucci contract and relax through transitions of soft crooning to course screams. The torrent of noise and emotion is real and powerful so brace yourselves.
2. Wake Up
4. Dust to Dust
7. The Bird And The Snake
8. East To West
9. Wild Heart
10. The Convicted
11. Majesty In Misery
12. The Father’s Bargain
As the spoken word undertones of some of the tracks suggest, there is a heavy faith aspect driving WATG. Whatever your stance on religion, it’s hard to deny that it works in terms of forcing the band to put their shoulder to the shovel and dig deep. Everyone needs a more abstract driving force behind each large undertaking and VxV certainly appears to be an homage to this band’s.
Frontman Cobucci particularly wants fans to recognise this. He said: “Beyond the music I hope that people can continually see the abundant love of God, His sure and rich mercies, and the infinite worth of Jesus Christ.”
To be perfectly honest, only those with a good ear for the kind of rough vocals that WATG are pedalling will be able to fully appreciate this message. Those who come for the brutal instrumental deluge may miss this, but tracks like Dust To Dust leave little of the band’s motivation levels to the imagination, the relentless percussion fuelling the soaring juggernaut becoming more determined with every crashing beat.
There is time put aside to appreciate some range in the band’s tone, though. Cobucci gives his vocal cords a rest in The Bird And The Snake, naturally still injecting some of the heavier stuff here and there. Considering this is only part of a very short lowering of VxV‘s pace, it’s not surprising that WATG seem impatient to things kicked things back up to the full face-melting throttle of before.
All this comes to a head in The Father’s Bargain, a six and a half-minute epic showcasing a high standard of production and varied song-writing. These merits come together to create one gut-wrenching full-stop of a track, pace and volume fluctuating to really put across the attention to composition. This allows the ever-present danger of the album’s continuous sonic assault wearing thin to fade.
As with the entire album, no element is left struggling to make itself heard. Each sound, artificial or otherwise, shines through, peaking with a dancing guitar cadence at the end, which gracefully winds down the entire recording to a satisfying finish.
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