The Republic of Wolves
His Old Branches


4.5
superb

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
October 4th, 2010 | 26 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A mysterious, brooding album with the allure of an ancient folktale.

Forging a unique path in the alternative rock genre is no easy undertaking. The task only gets more difficult when your lead singer sounds almost identical to that of a prominent band in the scene. Thus, it comes as a rather big surprise that The Republic of Wolves’ very first EP, His Old Branches has had such a lasting appeal. Endless comparisons have been made between lead singer Mason Maggio and Brand New’s Jesse Lacey, and they sound so similar that even Lacey-obsessed zealots had trouble deciphering the difference between the two on early demos. Despite this obstacle, The Republic of Wolves have created a timeless work by successfully fusing the heaviest elements of a band like Brand New with a sound that is distinctly folk.

This folk sound can be directly traced to the band’s primary founders: Christian Van Deurs and Mason Maggio. The pair of vocalists are original members of the indie-folk band Tigers on Trains, and their influence on His Old Branches is overarching. When the aforementioned duo joined forces with Gregg Andrew Dellarocca, Chris Wall, and bassist Billy Dupree in 2009, The Republic of Wolves was formed. The group of five began to experiment with a sound that was “different, heavier, and more dynamic” than Maggio and Van Deur’s prior endeavors. His Old Branches delivers on all of these fronts, while also showing the band’s knack for writing contemplative, myth-influenced lyrics.

Considering the mindset out of which the EP was conceived, His Old Branches is a surprisingly eclectic affair. There are moments of brilliant reflection, and even more frequently, there are times when bassist Billy Dupree sounds like he is screaming for his immortal soul. The album seems to intensify as it progresses, with “Done Haunting Houses” kicking things off in a glum, shadowy fashion and “Spill” following that up with disjointed, despairing screams of “You can’t blame anyone for what you’ve done!” The blood curdling shrieks that close out “A Weather Vane” illustrate the concentrated and forceful nature present throughout His Old Branches, with chunky, distorted riffs that coincide with each shrill scream and each aggressive drum beat.

The album doesn’t lose any steam, however, on the more peaceful tracks. Despite their calm nature, songs like “The Clouds” and “For His Old Branches” pack a punch with their smooth tempo transitions and story-telling lyrics. This is probably most evident in the title track, on which Mason Maggio wails, “There is a tree you cannot cut / He knows your name and all your fears / You dare not lay an axe to his old branches” and “We left our shoes under the ground / Tied yellow feathers to our arms / And learned the language of the aching mountain.” There is perhaps no better fusion of lyrical excellence and atmospheric elements than on “Through Windows”, as Mason Maggio confronts his religious crisis: “God, I’m afraid of the songs you’ve been singing me / God I cannot hear your voice quite so clearly. / And I am the walls crumbling down..” The song alternates between eerily howled verses and screaming choruses accompanied by shredding electric guitars. It all ends on a harmonious note, with a short but breathtaking acoustic guitar section. At over seven minutes in length, “Through Windows” is an epic track worthy of closing out the experience that is His Old Branches.

After just one EP, The Republic of Wolves have proven themselves to be advanced musicians, songwriters, and lyricists. They successfully combined the indie-folk sound of Tigers on Trains with a heavier, edgier Brand New influenced style. Moreover, they managed to fuse together these two very different styles flawlessly, as the EP has exceptional flow between songs and within individual tracks. This is definitely one of the best new bands in alternative rock, and if His Old Branches is any indication, The Republic of Wolves will be around for a long, long time.



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user ratings (154)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
October 4th 2010


28120 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I finally got around to rewriting this; my old review from way back was pretty shoddy and this album certainly deserves better.

Gyromania
October 4th 2010


25902 Comments


Sounds really good, I'll have to look into this. Great review SS. Pos'd.

Foxhound
October 4th 2010


4571 Comments


Almost bought this yesterday... buying 3 cds tomorrow will get this fur shur.

SowingSeason
Moderator
October 4th 2010


28120 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

thanks guys, you should both also check out the free new song they have available; i posted a news article about it

Irving
Staff Reviewer
October 4th 2010


7503 Comments


Haha you ended up rewriting it eh Sowing? Good job - it's all round solid, and there's quite a few writing inflections that I'd like to try out myself sometime; easily one of your best reviews up here methinks.

Pos.

tinkrbel
October 4th 2010


1698 Comments


pos'd ;)

SowingSeason
Moderator
October 4th 2010


28120 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

thanks irving. im glad you see some things with my writing that will help you...although i have to be honest, i want to shake things up...i feel like i crank out the same style review too much. at least lately.



thanks tinkrbel



anyone who like brand new should check out this band and tigers on trains

Irving
Staff Reviewer
October 4th 2010


7503 Comments


I actually felt the same way when I pumped out the Darren Hayes review. Maybe you could read the staffs reviews to get a better idea of how to do things? (that's what I've been doing for the past few days)

Also, I think recognizing the stagnation is half the battle - so ups to you for that.

SowingSeason
Moderator
October 5th 2010


28120 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

haha thanks man. so you ever give this a listen?

MassiveAttack
October 5th 2010


2754 Comments


I like the album art =]

SowingSeason
Moderator
October 5th 2010


28120 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

a ghost petting a deer and turning his head awkwardly towards the sky....what's not to like?

Irving
Staff Reviewer
October 5th 2010


7503 Comments


No not yet - been too engrossed with life (which has caught up with me surprisingly quickly). But I will for sure (and as soon as I can)!

SowingSeason
Moderator
October 5th 2010


28120 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

haha take ur time, but when you get around to it let me know what you think

c0ffee
January 1st 2012


310 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

^one of my favorites.



This is possibly the only release not on vinyl. I want that to change!

SowingSeason
Moderator
October 4th 2014


28120 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Jamming this now for old times sake... hasn't lost its magic.

elcrawfodor
July 17th 2015


1264 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Bought this for a buck off of Bandcamp, it's unnerving how similar the vocals in The Clouds are to Lacey's softer moments in Daisy

RadicalEd
July 17th 2015


9392 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've never gotten this whole "they sound like Brand New" thing. First LP is still great. This is very good as well. Second LP... not so much.

Digging: Tim Hecker - Konoyo

elcrawfodor
July 17th 2015


1264 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's only at certain moments I can hear it in the vocals, when they go for the Tigers on Trains style vocals it's nothing like Brand New (and honestly those are the bulk of the album)

SowingSeason
Moderator
January 26th 2016


28120 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah these guys have come a long way since sounding like Daisy demos. Once they polished up the production a little bit it was easy to discern the vocals. Honestly, there are times where I wonder if I might like this more than Daisy (probably not, but the fact that it rivals it is kind of ridiculous in itself)

Feather
January 26th 2016


4765 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The Clouds is by far my favorite off of this



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