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| 11 June 2014 | Reply


Label: Solid State Records

Release Date: June 10, 2014

Rating: 9/10

Reviewed by: Mike Hubbard

Post-hardcore/metalcore band Wolves At The Gates dropped their second full-length VxV (Five by Five) on June 10, and it is a beast!  Hailing from tiny Cedarville, OH, there is nothing tiny about the experience delivered on this 12 song, 47 minute assault.  And the assault comes in two forms: in the music, and the message.  The musical assault is hard, but never too heavy.  VxV features a never ending ebb and flow, building and releasing tension, varying the time signature, blending clean and screamed vocals, leaving you on the edge of your seat in anticipation of the next twist or turn.  While the music takes you on an endless journey, the lyrical message is consistent throughout.  It has become almost meaningless to label a band as Christian anymore, but Wolves At The Gates make their faith abundantly clear.  The Christian theme of mankind’s need for a savior, and the fulfillment of that need through Jesus Christ is expressed in each track.

The stage is set in the opening track, ‘VxV’.  It is a spoken word intro, stating the theme of the need for forgiveness and the fulfillment of that need by Jesus.  This intro segues into the next song ‘Wake Up’, which appropriately opens with a screamed ‘WAKE UP!’  As one of the heavier tunes on the disc, ‘Wake Up’ provides a great foretaste of what to expect with the rest of the album.  ‘Return’ is the next track, where we experience a bit more of the clean vocals from Steve Cobucci as a contrast to screamer Nick Detty.  WATG mixes it up a bit on ‘Dust To Dust’ with a rolling 6/8 time signature and again on ‘Relief’ with a syncopated beat, all the while keeping the intensity up.  The boys really switch things up on the sixth track ‘Rest’.  It’s still heavy, but more hard rock than hardcore, featuring more clean vocals than most tracks as well as some gang vocals.  The change-ups continue with ‘The Bird And The Snake’ with a slower tempo and clean vocal opening, building in volume and intensity throughout the first half of the song only to drop down to a whisper.  Just when you think the song made be fading out it explodes with Detty’s most passionate screams on the disc.  Cobucci’s cleans really shine on this track as well.  Overall it is one of the many highlights of the album.  The tempo slows slightly for ‘East To West’, which carries forth a theme taken from the Bible and highlighted on the album cover “He will take away your sins, as far as the East is from the West”.  The tempo and intensity pick up again in the next two tracks ‘Wild Heart’ and ‘The Convicted’.  WATG often list Thrice as one of their influence, and that influence is apparent in the eleventh track ‘Majesty In Misery’.  The closing track, and what is perhaps their most ambitious one musically is ‘The Father’s Bargain’. It has a spoken word intro, providing a bookend along with the title track ‘VxV’, restating the overall theme of the album.  Cobucci takes over then, with a soft prayer-like vocal, abruptly interrupted by Detty’s screams.  The build and release of tension, displayed throughout the disc, is the main focus of the track, both musically and lyrically.  The song is a perfect encapsulation of all that is VxV.

I’ve been listening to the disc repeatedly since I got it, and every time I give it a spin something new sticks out to me.  Although the Christian themes are strong, even non-Christians will enjoy this due to the depths of the music and the universal feelings of being lost and the need of something beyond yourself, whether you find that need in Christ or elsewhere.  If you are looking for something fresh and deep in the post-hardcore/metalcore vein, you owe it to yourself to check out VxV from Wolves At The Gates.

Category: CD Reviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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