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Review: Wolverine - Still

Label: Candlelight Records
Year released: 2006
Duration: 52:08
Tracks: 9
Genre: Progressive Metal


Review online: October 20, 2007
Reviewed by: Bruce Dragonchaser
Readers' Rating
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Rated 4.14/5 (82.86%) (14 Votes)

The move from Earache to Candlelight seems to have been pretty beneficial for Swedish prog metallers Wolverine, sharpening their ear for melody and genuinely giving the band the freedom to create one of the most natural, artistic creations in their field. "Still" is the third release from the emotive Swedes, following from 2003's "Cold Light of Monday" and strips their sound down into a tight, cohesive build of melodic prog and atmospheric metal. Eschewing the dark, almost industrial elements to their sound, Wolverine continue to breathe emotion into their material physically, revealing a light depth to the subtext hiding beneath the swirling musical structures. "Still", unlike "Cold Light of Monday", is in short, a masterpiece.

Not as conceptually bound as its predecessor, "Still" takes the listener on an enlightened journey of spiraling musical fortune. Shaking off their submissive aggression and avant-garde labeling, the band have moved steadily into a contemporary sound that isn't a million miles away from modern Porcupine Tree, which often recalls the great Queensryche and Vanden Plas. Each track tugs a different emotional string, with opener "A House of Plague" being possibly the heaviest, most hostile representation of their profundity, while its follow up "Bleeding" sits on the fence, switching between syncopated, rhythmic drumming, heavy guitars, and light, almost jazzy piano interludes. "Taste of Sand" and the disturbingly bleak "Sleepy Town" offer quieter moments of reflection; in fact, the latter is so poignantly delivered, you can almost feel the cold mist of night air as vocalist Stefan Zell leads you through the shivering streets. The songs tend to be very direct for a metal album, and often sit closer to prog rock territory - much like the acclaimed Riverside - with a hugely atmospheric ambiance and synth drenched character. Zell himself has one of the most fragile voices I've ever heard, and his pure emotion is almost tear-jerking during the absolutely heartrending ballad "Hiding", which dealing with serious degrees of introspection, is one of the most touching songs I've ever heard. Closing with the longest track, "And She Slowly Dies" offers the biggest hook, complete with svelte vocal harmonies, gripping guitars, and jerky drums; another distraction of subtle, yet complexly intelligent music.

It might be a little difficult to understand why its genius is so profound at first, but a couple of days studying its beauty may make you feel increasingly learned. Fans of Riverside, Porcupine Tree, Novact and even Chroma Key should lap up every minute, and those craving their fix of cerebral stimulation shouldn't hesitate to witness the brilliance this band hides beneath their twisted metal surface.

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