[15th October 2012]
01. Growing Defeat
02. Dialogue of No Light
03. Reach This Hand
04. Diving and Struggling
05. Me From Myself, to Banish
Debut albums hold a lot of weight to them; by either propelling the band further in their career, or only offering a brief whimper of noise that can easily go unnoticed. For French hardcore act Direwolves, this statement rings true as they find themselves in the midst of releasing their first EP via Throatruiner Records. Formed in 2011, this five piece band, while new to the scene, are quick to prove themselves noticeable as their EP, Me From Myself, To Banish, showcases a viciously brutal blend of blackened/metallic hardcore that also incorporates elements of screamo and crust within their sound. With this many sub-genres of hardcore and metal being mixed into their sound, and only six tracks equaling a sixteen-minute runtime, Direwolves may have a bit of a challenge convincing new listeners they have what it takes. As the old saying goes, “quality over quantity”, and it begs the question: are Direwolves set to deliver just that?
The sound of feedback slowly fading in opens the album, but it barely offers any chance of preparing oneself, as a sudden burst of chords are struck; the pounding of the kick drum begins; and the shouting vocals are quick to engage the listener and thrust them into a crushing atmosphere that is “Growing Defeat“. Full of despair, this opening track fully expresses the bands raw emotion by pulling you in with its infectious melody. The track continues its momentum with each burst of the instruments being hammered in and out, with the resonating trail of feedback bleeding into the next barrage of sound. All of this ultimately merges into one melodic resurgence of metallic riffs and desperate screams, which at times are reminiscent of Jeremy Bolm (Touché Amoré), but with more angst behind them. The highlight of this track though, comes at the end. As a final breakdown comes to a close, the tempo slows with just the strumming of the guitar chords, giving a slight black metal feel to them. As the shouts of “From which I’ll draw my force” finish, the song explodes into a combination of dissonance and distortion. A harmonic wail of the guitars clash against the hammering of the drums in a fit of fury, giving the EP one of the most menacing moments it has to offer. It’s not only a highlight point of the track, but of the entire EP.
The EP manages to keep the momentum going as “Dialogue of No Light” picks up right where “Growing Defeat” ends, giving off a feeling of continuity as the transition from track to track is handled smoothly, adding yet another positive aspect to an already stellar release. Sticking to the formula, Direwolves continue to trudge along in each track with an emphasis on slower tempos, while also throwing in the occasional instrumental lunacy that is inherent in crust, giving the EP enough twists and turns dispel any signs of being monotonous – it’s actively engaging and surprising.
This is very apparent in both the title track “Me From Myself, To Banish” – a short instrumental which looms and envelops the listener in dread – and the crushing track it leads in to, “Relief“. This being the closing track, Direwolves pull no punches, unleashing an assault of blistering riffs, venomous screams and utter malice, all the while harnessing the most crust-driven sound on the album. This track is far from being a relief as the ending crescendos into a blur of shredding insanity from all fronts, delivering a killer end to a fantastic EP.
Seeing as how this is Direwolves first major release as a band (aside from a two-track demo), it stands that it will take a bit of time for them to gain notice, but with a strong label backing them up, and with Me From Myself, To Banish with a “name your price” option available via their Bandcamp, Direwolves are sure to gather the strong following they deserve. It’s hard to find any faults, as the band isn’t venturing into strange territory. They play what they know and they play it well. They have what it takes to write gnarly tunes that are both cohesive and catchy as hell, while also catering to both the classic and new hardcore fans alike, and when the time comes for them to write a full-length album I’m willing to bet people will be chomping at the bit to hear it. I know I will. Rage!