Review Summary: TSOW's sophomore album show's the band improving, finding their sound, and creating one of the best Metalcore albums in recent memory.
To Speak Of Wolves is a Metalcore band founded by Phil Chamberlain, brother of Underoath vocalist Spencer Chamberlain. They released their debut album back in 2010 and it was pretty solid. They had a good vocalist and the instrumentals were enjoyable. Shortly after the release they lost their vocalist, which always sucks. Losing a frontman can make or break a band. I'm happy to report that Gage Speas, the new lead vocalist, isn't simply on par with the previous vocalist, he's on a much higher level. With a great new vocalist the band has crafted a great new album, one that sounds very different than their debut in the best possible way.
When I listen to this album there's one band comparison that comes to mind every time... Underoath, minus the keyboard. This record is very similar to Disambiguation. This is a dark atmospheric album driven by an intense vocal performance and deeply personal lyrics. While the rest of the band does a great job, the focus of the album is Gage Speas and him pouring his heart and soul out onto the record. Sound familiar?
Similarities aside, this band stands on their own just fine, they are not a clone of Underoath or bands like them. They have their own sound and it's ***ing outstanding.
Gage is one of the best vocalists I've heard recently, maybe ever. His screams pack an enormous punch and he has pretty solid range, but the real accomplishment is the emotion they contain. The amount of anguish and desperation in this guy's voice gives me chills every time I give this a spin. He sounds like a cross between Micah Kinard and Spencer Chamberlain, which is amusing to me considering his history with Oh Sleeper and who the founder of this band is. Speaking of Micah, he has a guest spot on the second track and it's awesome. Gage has a pretty great singing voice as well and he puts it to good use on several tracks.
The lyrics here are, like I said, deeply personal. There's stories about losing faith, losing loved ones, parents divorcing, people separating... but there's also more positive topics like becoming who you're meant to be and, as the album title suggests, finding you worth.
The songs themselves are for the most part, completely chaotic and frantic, matching the intensity of the vocals. The guitar riffs are fast paced, frantic, and also very interesting. There are some greats riffs and melodies to be found here, some of them are quite bizarre sounding but they work perfectly. The playing is all around very tight. Phil Chamberlain's drumming is great. He's got that style of playing that never gets to flashy but keeps the song rolling perfectly, his beats are a constant highlight throughout the album.
There is no filler here, every song has something to say, and they all completely and utterly hold my attention every time I listen.
The last track on the album, 'Rearview Memories' deserves a special mention. It's about the suicide of the father of two of Gage's friends. Levi (Levi The Poet) and his sister Bree. These two both have guest spots on the track, Bree praying to God, Levi speaking to his deceased father. Both performances are very emotional and bring a lot to the song. Add Gage's desperate screams and you have an emotional masterpiece of an album closer. This one gives me chills and I'll admit it came damn close to bringing a tear to my eye the first time I heard it.
This album both demands and deserves attention. TSOW is easily one of the most promising Metalcore acts to jump onto the scene recently. This is not breakdown riddled chugging, this is emotional impressive technical music that every fan of the genre should give at least one listen.