Review Summary: A true emotional journey.
Plenty of bands have come and gone trying to leave their mark on the progressive rock/metal genre, striving to carve out a new sound. With self-produced albums becoming easier and easier to accomplish in your basement with minimal equipment, the music scene in general has exploded. Being unique has never been as important. But what’s even more critical is to have a unique sound that truly sticks--something that you can come back to listen to day after day, year after year.
While Wolverine does not necessarily rewrite the entire book on the genre, they certainly leave their mark on the metaphorical Hollywood of progressive bands. After facing a complete break-up following the acclaimed release Still, Wolverine had a lot to prove. With Communication Lost, they distinguish themselves from the crowd and reaffirm their position; they may have fallen apart, but now they were together again at full strength.
Much like bands such as Katatonia, Wolverine uses piano and string instruments to build up an atmosphere, forming a melancholic, gloomy mood also reminiscent of the aforementioned group. They begin construction during the intro “Downfall”, which eventually leads into 8-minute leading song “Into the Great Nothing”. It is a slow song with a droning guitar riff accompanying acoustics and string instruments with keyboard support. Vocalist Stefan Zell sounds absolutely incredible, and his whole range is explored here as he laments about the consumption culture of the western world.
Many of Wolverine’s songs on this record feature the same aspects: strong lyrics (something prog bands sometimes lack), string instruments playing a large factor, and subtle progression--the band typically plays in normal time signatures without changing too much. Most of the progression here occurs over the song, often building up into a dramatic chorus (exemplified by “Into the Great Nothing” as well as the title track).
After “Into the Great Nothing”, the album begins to split and really show its diversity. Half of it features songs like the opener, while others, primarily “Embrace” and “What Remains” almost exclusively feature strings, piano, and Zell (whose voice really adds a great punch to this album). They add to the glum and despairing disposition of the CD, and it all comes together to make a very emotional experience; it’s the sort of sound that is memorable and will stick with you.
A few songs, notably “Your Favorite War” and “Pulse” are near straight-forward rock releases, with strong chorus and a main keyboard presence along with a catchy main riff. “Pulse” is the fastest track on the album, featuring a solo and prominent guitar parts and more string support. It also has arguably the most captivating and powerful chorus, featuring great vocal harmonies--something Wolverine does masterfully on this album--and equally impressive lyricism.
Of course, plenty of bands have put symphonies, orchestras, etc. into their music, but Wolverine pulls it off with good production (looking at you Beyond the Red Mirror) and remarkable song diversity. The string-guided numbers are distributed throughout, broken up by songs like “Pulse”, adding variety and making the 1 hour+ album a bearable, exciting, and joyful listen.
The beautifully despondent tracks such as “What Remains” and the prog rockers such as “Pulse” form a touching album whose melancholic instrumentation and prevailing lyrics evoke strong emotion from the listener. It is truly an album one must experience on a full listen--and Wolverine makes it a memorable time.