Progressively morphing their sound, Sweden’s Wolverine are ever growing and transitioning. Their 2011 release Communication Lost found the band making headway in the States and manufacturing an underground buzz. Starting their career as a death metal act, that style is long gone and left behind without a trace.
Their fifth full length release Machina Viva again shows them adapting a different sound and at this point have left almost all traces of metal behind. Their songs are slow building and rely on emotion, spearheaded by vocalist Stefan Zell’s moody melodies. Epic in nature, the material must be absorbed and it is extraordinarily layered and needs to be peeled back to understand its true genius.
The opening epic “The Bedlam Overture” is an atmospheric track that clocks in at almost 15 minutes. The keyboard takes on a large role while driving the song as it marches through different transitions. The heavier guitars are more subdued this time and are never overly heavy. A complex time signature drives the song as it expertly
alternates between clean picked passages with heavier movements sprinkled in.
The morose “Pile Of Ash” is a gorgeously layered tale that is reminiscent of the softer side of Evergrey. Zell shines with a haunting melody as the pain in his performance is clearly heard. Lyrically the track is mesmerizing with its tale of pain and loss and the lyrics convey a great emotion: “Crying in silence, all out of words/Fire embraced all I was, all I saw/Burned me from inside, leaving nothing but this pile of ash.”
Another highlight is the standout “Nemesis.” A true definition of dynamics, it continuously builds until its heartbreaking chorus. With an astonishing memorable melody, it takes you away on a flight and soars you above the earth. It is what the new Fates Warning strives to be but doesn’t come close to realizing. One of the best songs of the year is punctuated by a stunning guitar solo from Jonas Jonsson.
Despite Machina Viva clocking in at 70 minutes and the slower moodier feel of the material, remarkably it never becomes repetitive. It is inspiring to see Wolverine continually morphing their style and not resting on their past successes. Once again pushing their boundaries, the depth and strength of the songwriting is impressive. This release is a grower that needs to be nurtured to see its full promise.
(released July 8th, 2016 on Sensory Records)
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Watch Wolverine – “Our Last Goodbye” Video