Wolverine – Communication Lost

Posted on June 7, 2011

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Candlelight

6/21/2011

No, their bones are not fused with adamantium and they have nothing to do with Hugh Jackman (sorry, ladies). About the only thing they have in common with Entombed’s classic death ‘n’ roll album is their mutual homeland of Sweden. Instead, this Wolverine jams some pretty accessible progressive rock/metal à la Porcupine Tree or a less death-y Opeth.

There’s one question you should answer before delving into Communication Lost: are you in the mood for some hearty slices of crooning mixed in with your prog soup? I only ask this because frontman Stefan Zell’s deep baritone echoes through pretty much every corner of this 70-minute ride. And the title is right on point, because as much as his melodramatic delivery bids for emotional resonance, it’s difficult to piece together exactly what the hell he’s so bummed about. “Lonely in a world where people are dying to live / Weary of the stories that unfold before my eyes,” Zell intones on “What Remains” with bits of vibrato. “A clenched fist can feel so strong / A lion’s heart unable to break.” It’s the kind of “woe is me” downer that would be any radio metal band’s second single to show their sensitive side, complete with piano and weeping cellos. Contrast that with mid-paced chug-a-thon “Into the Great Nothing,” where Zell hits us with, “Trapped in my own addiction / Outside looking in / Colors fade to grey / My remorse is not enough / I have gone too far.” Seriously, did Aaron Lewis ghostwrite this shit? Generic self-loathing and faux remorse does not a prog metal album make.

Luckily, the proceedings are rescued from the abyss by some creative instrumentation. “Embrace” bleeds in with Floydian bent bass notes and the kind of meandering tribal rhythms Tool rocked back in 2001 before launching into a soaring guitar solo backed by shimmering synths. Wolverine’s instrumental mix and match game is largely enjoyable. The title track latches a driving bassline and piano duo to bombastic electronic spaciness, then brings it all back to Earth for probably the only truly great vocal performance on the album. Pensive breaks make room for Åkerfeldt-esque solos, but damned if those swirling keys don’t recall the good 80s Rush albums. It’s the climbs, as opposed to the descents, that showcase the band’s true strengths, as evidenced on “In Memory of Me”’s resolute chorus replete with enough cautious optimism to justify the comparison to Steven Wilson’s brainchild. Just be wary of the vocal breaks if that kind of thing isn’t really your bag.

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