Wolves Scream is a Belgian metalcore band that formed in 2010. Since then they certainly haven’t reinvented the wheel, but what piqued my interest was their focus on the genre’s dark seriousness which steers them away from its flashier, glam tendencies. They also have a good handle of catchy pop elements. That combination reminds me of “They’re Only Chasing Safety”-era Underoath. However, the guitar riffs on their new album, Vestiges, are a lot heavier than that comparison would suggest. This record’s heavier moments are more accurately compared to a band like Meshuggah.
The album starts with “Frgmnts,” a mostly electronic and introductory song. The slow building guitars and ghostly screams exhibit the band’s ambient side, which shows up at other points on the album as well. The following track, “Mirrors,” is more straightforward and in turn flawed. The intro is made irritatingly dissonant by repeated screeching notes in a riff that appears in various parts of the song. The rest of the song is typical, competent metalcore; the layered vocals are screechy and reminiscent of early Atreyu records. The song’s structure wanders a bit but, in doing so, gives a nice preview of what you can expect from the rest of the record. “Void” is punishingly heavy and groovy. The vocals make good use of an effect that sounds haunting, while the lead and rhythm guitars work together to create an ambience that is hypnotic and melodic. This track has a lot of rhythm changes that causes it meander and feel unnecessarily long, however, it concludes with a pretty electronic part that wraps it all up quite nicely.
“Echoes” is an ambient post-metal track that acts as a much-needed palette cleanser. Drawing inspiration from Underoath’s later output, it’s totally instrumental, short, beautiful, and impossibly heavy. The next song, “Oathbreaker,” reminds me of late Attack Attack. There’s a comparable amount of drama with breakdowns galore, but the vocals add a necessary seriousness to the sound of the song, as does a haunting, retro-sounding spoken word sample. The sparse instrumentation and echoing vocals right before the final breakdown gives the audience room to breathe before being assaulted with heaviness one last time. “Humans” opens like a straightforward thrash song, fast riffs, and loud vocals. This is short-lived as the song transitions into a catchy and metalcore chorus with fast-paced, pop-punk like drums. The rest of the song embraces a chaotic tone that reminds me of bands like Norma Jean and The Chariot.
“Giants” has a tough-guy metalcore intro that reminds me of August Burns Red. The fast-paced and complicated guitar riffs are also similar to Protest The Hero, minus the high-pitched squeals. There’s an almost synthetic sounding guitar riff low in the mix that gives the song a hint of melody. The record finishes with the title track. Its intro is comparatively stripped down, and the lack of surrounding noise gives the vocals a more rough and pained sound. The first two minutes of the song are instrumentally skeletal while the vocals are beefy and sound like a chant. At the two minute mark, the whole band kicks in, but a light lead guitar riff maintains the illusion of sparseness. As a closing song, it is pretty anti-climactic, but that’s consistent with the album as a whole. Wolves Scream are talented songwriters and instrumentalists with a very specific sound and no desire to step outside of that vision.
Written by Brian Charles Clarke
*edited by Danielle Kenedy