Review Summary: Dark, brooding and reflective with an intense edge, Wolverine has managed to create a masterpiece of modern progressive metal, in the truest sense of the genre label.2 of 2 thought this review was well written
Progressive metal should always embody the word progress: to change, to develop, and to evolve. Sometimes this evolution can cause a rift amongst a bands main fan base--forcing them to choose between several incarnations and sounds the band has adopted throughout their existence. Other times, the band carries their fan base along with them as their progression is more natural and expected. Wolverine feels like they fall squarely in the latter category.
"Still" finds Wolverine moving into progressive rock territory but still managing to capture some of the aggression of their past two albums. To label the band prog-rock though would be as misleading as calling Dream Theater's "Awake" prog-rock. Wolverine's own background seems to work against them when it comes to labels as they come from a Progressive Metal background that featured some death growls--so anything not in that mold will sound much lighter to any fans ears.
The album has an eclectic feel, merging perfect genre influences together in an original form that only a band of Wolverine's caliber could manage. You can hear Dream Theater era "Awake" in a lot of the keyboard work (note the outro to "She Slowly Dies," or the keyboard intensity of "This Cold Heart of Mine"), Porcupine Tree harmonies ("Taste of Sand")… and Pink Floyd…all over the disc. The riff that kicks “A House of Plague” off is the best riff Opeth never wrote. The melancholic sense of despair is pure Anathema, though, with a sense of dark urgency they haven't been able to match since "Eternity."
The album is desperate and quiet with the Rhodes keyboard tones of "Nothing More” and aggressive and belligerent with its riffs in "Liar on the Mount," which overcomes the handicap of featuring the worst moment of the record, a vocal sample George W Bush. The pulsing electronic groove of "Sleepy Town" helps make the second half of the disc even stronger than the first--closing with the powerful "This Cold Heart of Mine" with its driving keyboard atmosphere, and the epic “And She Slowly Dies” which has one of the most powerful choruses written by a prog group in recent memory.
Stefan Zell is one of the most compelling vocalists in the business right now. His ability to draw emotion from each word he sings pulls the listener deeper into the song, going beyond great riffs and technical chops. Zell, compared to previous albums, sounds like he has just gotten better and better; "Still" being his unofficial coming out party into the world of top metal vocalists.
If you're into "Awake" era Dream Theater, mid era Anathema ("Eternity," "Alternative 4") and newer Porcupine Tree, this album is perfect for you. Dark, brooding and reflective with an intense edge, Wolverine has managed to create a masterpiece of modern progressive metal, in the truest sense of the genre label.