Wolves Like Us
Black Soul Choir


3.8
excellent

Review

by Greg Fisher STAFF
February 16th, 2014 | 28 replies


Release Date: 03/04/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Norwegian quartet adroitly integrate post-hardcore with tenebrous atmospherics on their second album.

Following a record that set out an impressive stall isn’t easy. Late Love was an invigorating debut that saw Oslo-based Wolves Like Us delving into dark post-hardcore with massive riffs, angular melodies and commendable tightness. It effectively revived the spirit of such acclaimed 1990s collectives as Quicksand and Drive Like Jehu, ditching the trends that have subverted the genre in the last 15 years. Black Soul Choir manages to sidestep the dreaded second album slump by expanding the quartet's winning formula. The skeleton of the tracks still revolves around traditional post-hardcore attributes like throbbing bass lines and frenetic drum-beats, yet the focus is shifted towards atmospheric soundscapes that make the group's brand of post-hardcore even more brooding. This shift also informs a more expansive approach to songwriting. The tracks usually take more time to unravel, which makes for a significantly more nuanced and moodier effort.

Setting down a strong rhythmic foundation is bassist Torgeir Kjeldaas and drummer Jonas Thire, and their complimentary interplay enables guitarist Espen Helvig to utilize a large variety of textures around deep grooves including punchy lead riffs, dreamy passages and dissonant solos. Even though the musicianship is rock-solid, frontman Larsh Kristensen remains the quartet's greatest asset as his gruff vocals lend the album its unique voice. The singer forms an emotional bond with the listener, delivering the performance that ranges from muscular to vulnerable. He also has an uncanny knack for crafting powerful vocal hooks that hardly ever fail to resonate. His unabashedly personal lyrics, which focus on such themes as disbelief, failed relationships and depression, only enhance the authentic quality of the album.

Paradoxically, there is also a real freshness to the presentation of the outfit’s music, and the irresistible choruses of tracks like 'I Don't Need To Be Forgiven', 'Your Word Is Law' and 'Dig With Your Hands' have massive cross-over appeal. In particular, 'Dig With Your Hands' is an exceptionally dynamic number that swiftly shifts from engrossing shouted-out verses to a poignant chorus and an ingeniously crafted bridge. Alice In Chains-echoing balladry of 'Lovescared' provides a welcome moment of solace amid high-octane heavy rock cuts. Meanwhile, 'Thanatos Wins Again' is a monumental closer that's ingrained in oppressive doom metal. Treading a fine line between the genre's might and the gothic vibe of Paradise Lost, the epic ends the album on a genuinely unsettling note. Unfortunately, Black Soul Choir is not as consistently excellent as the quartet's debut full-length, and there are several less inspired segments along the way. While the bland verses of 'Three Poisons' are partly rectified by the song's enticing refrain, the repetitive 'When Will We Ever Sleep?' seems totally underwritten despite its nimble guitar parts.

What links these tracks together, though, is the insidious darkness that permeates through the band’s output, just loitering beneath the surfaces, implicit regardless of whether Wolves Like Us are rolling at full tilt or holding back. Similarly to last year's staggering album of Coliseum, Black Soul Choir balances all doom and gloom with sincerity and emotional undercurrents. The new outing from the Nordic rockers may not be as essential as Sister Faith in the long run, but it certainly makes for a highly pleasurable set of darkly-tinged rock tunes.




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Mark A. (3.5)
Wolves Like Us would like the listener to sink into the abyss with them, and most will enjoy the des...


Comments:Add a Comment 
menawati
Contributing Reviewer
February 16th 2014


16114 Comments


sounds good, full stream anywhere ?

Digging: H.P. Lovecraft - H.P. Lovecraft II

greg84
Staff Reviewer
February 16th 2014


7433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

I don't think so. I got a promo copy a couple of weeks ago. You can find their kick-ass debut somewhere, though.

Here's my interview with the band:

http://www.sputnikmusic.com/blog/2014/02/26/artist-spotlight-wolves-like-us/

Digging: Wildbirds & Peacedrums - Rhythm

PistolPete
February 16th 2014


3644 Comments


I love that you guys are putting up streams of songs within the reviews now. This sounds great! Nice review Greg!

Digging: Skyharbor - Guiding Lights

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
February 16th 2014


16114 Comments


yes thats a good feature embedding streams

greg84
Staff Reviewer
February 16th 2014


7433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Mx has been really prolific lately, introducing this change along with youtube embeds in the news section.

Thanks, PistolPete. Glad you like it.


PistolPete
February 16th 2014


3644 Comments


I think I'm gonna check out "Late Love" first though. They kinda remind me a bit of Alexisonfire. But a little sludgier obviously.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
February 16th 2014


7433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Good move. Late Love is amazing imo.

Alexis are quite a good reference point... now when I think about it.

PistolPete
February 16th 2014


3644 Comments


The later Alexisonfire more so though than earlier. Oh man is "Shiver In The Heat" ever a good song.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
February 16th 2014


7433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Almost every song from that album is superb tbh. One of my favorite LPs of 2011.

ProjectFreak
February 16th 2014


1438 Comments


This sounds awesome. Will definitely check out when I can get my hands on it. Great work Greg.

Jruined
February 16th 2014


1301 Comments


This shit is pretty tight. It reminds me of Intronaut, Quicksand, and Clutch.

Then again I only listened to one song.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
February 16th 2014


7433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Thanks, ProjectFreak. Quicksand and Intronaut seem to be legit comparisons. I for one wouldn't liken them to Clutch... but yeah they're rockin' hard.


Inveigh
February 16th 2014


25116 Comments


Late Love was pretty good, I'll have to check this out. Good review Greg

Digging: Hail Mary Mallon - Bestiary

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
February 16th 2014


10367 Comments


Nice work, man. This sounds like my kinda thing for sure

Also, you may want to look into rewording paranoid solos- rest of the review is good stuff though. I hope the
vocals work here better than on the new Intronaut.

PistolPete
February 16th 2014


3644 Comments


^whoa...too far man

greg84
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2014


7433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Thanks, Jacob. I've changed that. The vocals are actually the best thing about this album.

henryChinaski
February 17th 2014


2840 Comments


Well, those two songs sound awesome. That Blood Command recommendation got me interested. Nice review!

Digging: Pianos Become the Teeth - Keep You

Speed512
February 18th 2014


136 Comments


please, for the love of god, get the fuck out of my house.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
February 18th 2014


6289 Comments


Album stream - http://albumstreams.com/s/wolves-like-us/black-soul-choir

The source link comes from Metal Hammer UK, but, for some reason, it's broken.

Digging: Madred - Supersonic Brainfuck Overdrive

Jruined
February 18th 2014


1301 Comments


You're. right Greg, it's not Clutch, I cant quite put my finger on it but its a band that jumped out of the hardcore scene i grew up in during the 90s.



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