Review Summary: A step up, but not a leap forward.
When Wolves At The Gate
released their We Are The Ones
EP in 2011, they were greeted with positive feedback and spawned a loyal fan base. While the EP was a solid piece of work, containing some interesting riffs, great vocals and effective lyrics, it was nothing groundbreaking in the Post-Hardcore genre as it stands. With plenty of room for improvement, here they’ve returned in 2012 with their debut full-length Captors
. With nowhere to move but up, the band have without a doubt lived up to the hype, but I still can’t help but find that the band are struggling to create their own recess in the genre.
What plagued their EP was, while they had some neat ideas at work there, the music as a whole fell into a mild mediocrity and too often did I find myself wondering where the songs were going. They all started off strong and quickly dived into forgetfulness and I wasn’t engaged again until the next song would start. Barely holding my attention for a meagre twenty-minute EP, the band weren’t anything overwhelming for me. But despite this, Wolves At The Gate
shoot ahead many of their peers in the popular Post-Hardcore scene and thus they have a fan of me. So while I wasn’t exactly eagerly awaiting this album, I was still intrigued as to what they’d do next.
Right off the bat, I do have one issue with this record: the production. They have some great melody and high-pitched guitar work on this album, but it’s painfully drowned out by some bland chug-riffing and that instantly gets me. I don’t want to hear the boring distortion, I want to hear the guitars and the vocals in-sync as they work together. It’s also the drumming. The drumming is too high in the mix and draws attention away from what I’d rather be enjoying. Whilst the drumming shines at points (see song; intro: The Harvest
), it’s not necessary or beneficial to have it mixed as highly as it is.
Where this album really shows its strength is in the vocals. The two vocalists do a good job contrasting and complimenting each other. The harsh vocals are aggressive and bring body to what feels like an almost lacklustre listen at points (with the instrumental standouts being bogged down by the production all too often (yes, I will no doubt keep flogging a dead horse here)) and the clean vocals the perfect balance of harmony alongside. While they’re nothing unique, they’re still a pleasure to listen to and make this album a worthy listen alone. The lyrics are, much like the EP, excellent and worth the time to check out.
“Who's shut the mouths of beasts
And with the sound of his voice it renders peace?
Who's drowned the earth with rain
And made a promise to man to never do the same?”
Many of the songs here fall into a rank-n-file niche, leaving a dull impression from a band with a lot of potential, though from the get go, a few of the songs really grab your attention with some killer riffs, drum beats and vocal melodies. When the instrumental intricacies come out to play when it’s their turn to dominate the production mix, they make the most of it. A small plucking intro here, some acoustic mix-ins there, some delightfully loveable refrains that don’t appear quite as often as you’d like, but where this band really show their true grit is with the absolutely fantastic closer Man of Sorrows
. With this song, they exemplify everything that separates them from the generic riff raff and brings them to the forefront of their genre. Everything from the solemn guitar intro to the cliche chanting and piano outro, the song is by far the standout of the album.
The band still have a ways to go, but they’re growing as musicians and I feel we can expect many a great thing from them in the future. Definitely check this out if you get the chance, it’s not a waste of time, but it’s not a timeless classic either. A great album in its own right, and it’s much more engaging than its successor. It kept me hooked from start to finish, so it can’t be all that bad.