There’s a lot to be pissed off about in 2020. It hasn’t really seemed to be a year that too many are making a checklist with too many ticks in the positive boxes, but assuredly many are checking off the ones when it comes to those of heinous notoriety. With the intent of remaining staunchly neutral, I won’t dive too deep into certain subjects nor will I contribute the titles or name, names. But this has been the year that has had one travesty or tragic even after the other. The explosion in Beirut which left many dead, missing, or at the very least without homes. A movement that at its core stands for justice and equality for all, yet has led certain individuals, groups to violence or hate, and has created certain moments that reflect anything but what it truly represents. And the pinnacle of so much turmoil, strife, sadness, and even in some cases death; the COVID-19 Pandemic. There were days it felt pointless in getting out of bed for fear of yet another piece of news that didn’t create a vehement feeling that would entice you to find a way to ‘punch this world in the face’…so to speak. But, even with this year’s seemingly never-ending onslaught of torment and negativity, there most definitely has been shining beacons of hope. These little, tiny miracles are more than likely being recognized in the most personal of ways, seeing ass what has been affecting the world as a whole has been mostly adverse and unfavorable nature, but that doesn’t make them any less meaningful or impactful. I, myself moved in with my girlfriend of many years and even purchased myself a new vehicle. These things did not make COVID go disappear or take away from the gravitas of everything else going on, yet it brought a moment of peace and warmth to my heart and mind. I have not forgotten about all the other calamity that currently plagues this Earth, so for those moments I find myself struggling it always helped to have some sort of an outlet. And what better than music so brimmed to the top with utter ferocity to help me vent out my frustrations? Thus, brings us to the focus of this album review, Alpha Wolf and their highly anticipated sophomore album, A Quiet Place to Die. After last year’s EP with new vocalist Lochie Keogh, the core world fans were salivating for what was to come next. I was just thinking to myself how fitting it is to be reviewing such a band, considering rhythm guitarist Sabian Lynch seemed more prepared than the rest of us for this pandemic as he regularly wears a face mask (and yes, I do know it was a fashion choice/statement and has nothing to do with the pandemic in actuality). A Quiet Place to Die is the epitome of anger. Sure, that absolutely is an array of topics ranging from heartache and the loss of someone near and dear due to suicide, but at its core this album deals with the subject of pure enmity and fury.
Genre: Metalcore | Post Hardcore
Label: SHARPTONE | Greyscale Records
Release: September 25th, 2020
Purchase: iTunes | Google Play
FLOW / LONGEVITY / ORIGINALITY
A Quiet Place to Die ebbs and flows like human emotion (minus those smile inducing moments…unless ya got a screw or two loose). Each song’s underlying desired emotion goes up and down, much like our own hearts and minds would. From rage to sadness, then rage once again as a result of feeling so down. Simply put it just makes sense. Every single track’s placement feels complimentary to the next, helping the album from ever missing a beat when listening to it from front to back. I won’t dig too deep into the minute details of the overall musicianship (as that comes later in the review), but at the sake of sounding picky or as if I think of myself as some sort of ‘expert’, there are times core songs (of any nature; post hardcore, metalcore, etc) can begin to sound a bit…samey, as if each chord progression and beat just follows the exact same cookie cutter pattern, but this is far from the case on A Quiet Place to Die. Sure it isn’t always the most technical work at all times from any member, but when considering what else this album could have sounded like each song contains a sense of variety contributing to the flow of the entire piece of work.
Do you truly believe that anyone in this world (regardless of its current situations) is ALWAYS happy? Never once having even the briefest moment of frustration or aggravation? Yea, me neither. This is merely a roundabout way of commenting on the stay power of this album. It is almost, in both words and sound, the perfect set of anthems for your hatred and suffering. Sick of being judged and looked down upon by those who would consider themselves better than you? Throw on “Creep”. Lost someone near and dear to your heart at their own hands? Alpha Wolf can share your pain with “Golden fate; Isolate”. Or if you simply can’t stand that lamp looking at you funny anymore, then why not blast “Ultra-Violet Violence”? This album is not just filled with songs to release the exasperated, it is a well thought out and well written piece of music, which in turn will lead to many a re-spin.
I think the true definition of ‘originality’ when it comes to music as a whole is a bit of a lost cause. Plenty of music will remind you of something else you’ve heard before in some shape or form. And, perhaps as a music reviewer I don’t listen to enough music (insert eye rolling emoji here), but When I listen to Alpha Wolf I know I’m listening to them and no one else. I throw on “Restricted (R18+)” and regardless of perhaps hearing something of a similar vein before, there is no doubt that I’m spinning these Australian blast beaters.
We present you Alpha Wolf’s brand new single ‘Akudama’. Taken from the ‘a quiet place to die’ LP available on September 25th via Greyscale Records & SharpTon…
VOCALS / INSTRUMENTATION
When Lochie Keogh took over vocal duties from Aidan Ellaz he brought a sense of familiarity all while something entirely new and invigorating. Some of Keogh’s higher toned screams sounded somewhat reminiscent of Ellaz, while his lower pitched growls and (although rare) raspy, gravelly..’cleans’ kicked things up a notch or twenty. These so called cleans are out in full force during the chorus of “Bleed 4 You”. This adds another layer to his already ever-expanding abilities, and when paired with the softer voice of Lizi Blanco of The Beautiful Moment fame, it makes for the perfect marriage of harmonies. One aspect of Keogh’s vocals that I have come to be a gigantic fan of is his ability to emote even through the most strained of screams. This is never more prevalent than on the opening lines of “The Mind Bends to a Will of Its Own”. You can almost feel the utter torment and frustration when Keogh screams ‘They say it’s all in my head, like that’s not the fucking problem?!’. It would be interesting to see what else he could do with gutturals, and perhaps some pure cleans, but with this dude already showcasing he has and utilizes to ability to grow on his abilities, I have no doubt he will continue to impress.
Alpha Wolf’s instrumentalists have an uncanny ability of blending a multitude of subgenres all into one pretty little angry package so seamlessly that at times it’s slightly unnoticeable, but in the best sense of the word. They effortlessly switch from what could be taken for slam then progress into pure metalcore (a prime example of this would be “Rot in Pieces”). They clearly weren’t afraid of a little experimentation on A Quiet Place to Die either, utilizing aspects of progressive metalcore and post-rock on songs such as “Bleed 4 You” and more notably “Don’t Ask…”. The guitars, bass, and drums all amalgamate to become one relentless machine never once letting up, yet always standing out in their own unique ways.
COMPOSITION / PRODUCTION
I think many who don’t quite look so fondly on any of the core world (and also some who do who fancy themselves ‘connoisseurs’ of ‘perfectly executed’ music) automatically assume it doesn’t take much when writing an album like this, when perhaps of the fact that core fans actually can be some of the most picky of fans in the music world, they have higher obstacles to overcome. This album when only listened to at surface value may seem to lack complexities, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are layers to each and every track that can only be noticed when you listened with a focused and attentive ear. And the fact that it’s abrasively apparent that Keogh has some insanely strong writing abilities when it comes to his words, it would be grossly negligent to consider him anything but a fantastic lyricist. A Quiet Place to Die is an extremely well written album, and it’s impressive how far this band has come over the years.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; reviewers do NOT get high quality copies when given an album to review. That being said, it’s almost the most excellent way to tell when an album has been produced with the most absolute perfect execution. A Quiet Place to Die would most assuredly fall into this category. I heard the little details that can be even hard to pick up on when buying an album of iTunes. Every note, every beat of the drum, every subtle upswing in vocals is crisp and pure. Production such as this far exceeds what most would expect on an album in the core world.
TW: The following clip contains scenes that some viewers may find disturbing, Including scenes of assault, violence and suicide. Viewer discretion is advised…
Fuck 2020. For the most part at least. It has been a year that has brought nothing but the worst to some, and even others who maybe haven’t fared quite as poorly are most definitely looking forward to its end. So, why not blast a little cathartic speaker pummeling while you wait? Alpha Wolf have consistently proven themselves to be a band that wishes to expand on their abilities and musical horizons, all while flooring their listeners with quality, brutal music. A Quiet Place to Die is a shouting in your fucking face to notice this fact. This album contains some of their heaviest efforts to date (both musically and emotionally), as well as some of their most experimental. This is THE album that proves they are a force to be reckoned with and solidifies their strong position in a musical world so saturated with the mundane. A Quiet Place to Die will not go quietly into the night.