Black Soul Choir Review

artist: Wolves Like Us date: 03/06/2014 category: compact discs
Wolves Like Us: Black Soul Choir
Released: Feb 24, 2014
Genre: Post-Hardcore, Stoner Rock
Label: Prosthetic Records
Number Of Tracks: 11
Don't judge a book by its cover - while "Black Soul Choir" may read like a heavy-hitting album, it unfortunately sounds bland and tiresome.
 Sound: 5
 Lyrics: 5
 Overall Impression: 4
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overall: 4.7
Black Soul Choir Featured review by: UG Team, on march 06, 2014
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Sound: Wolves Like Us have quite the expectations to live up to, whether they like it or not. Hailing from Oslo, Norway, any metal band that comes from the Scandinavian region of the world is expected to rock everyone's socks off. Even further, numerous members of the band have come from previous metal bands, so the "supergroup" status raises the bar of expectations further. Their debut album, "Late Love," was well-received by critics, and harnessed a vintage, pre-21st century style of metal that stayed in a steady gear of energy. With a promising debut album, critics and fans were anticipating the next album from Wolves Like Us, and the band definitely fed into the hype in the months prior to its release.

There's a noticeable lack of energy in the sound of "Black Soul Choir," and the foremost culprit would be the vocals from frontman Larsh Kristensen - you can find this from the very start with "Days of Ignorance." While the song is a less-than-90-second intro song for the album that sprints out of the gate instrumental-wise, the vocals that accompany the instruments don't match the intensity, and weigh down the energetic vibe the song is supposed to conjure. While the tired vocals are evident in the majority of the album, songs like "Three Poisons," "Your Word Is Law," and "When Will We Ever Sleep" give off "made for radio" vibes, and come off as very trite and unimaginative - as if Wolves Like Us were hoping that a "take no chances" approach with those songs would please everyone. The vocals that seem to perpetually be stuck in a low gear work best in "Lovescared," which is the designated acoustic ballad of the album, as well as "Thanatos Wins Again," which has a progressive/drone metal influence that meshes the instrumental energy and vocal energy nicely. Songs like "Dig With Your Hands" and "We Were Blood" do what they can to add energy to the album, but they aren't a saving grace. "Dig With Your Hands" and "I Don't Need to Be Forgiven" are the only songs with guitar solos, but they don't display any extraordinary guitar skill. And with the interlude tracks "A Wish of Fools" (which sounds like a demo that they decided to just throw on the album) and "Under," it begs the question: why does an album need interlude tracks that follow generally dull-sounding songs? // 5

Lyrics: With the aforementioned "sleepy" vocals throughout the album, many of the lyrics on the album are tough to comprehend since they're delivered in murmurs, and seem to wash over you. Some cases where lyrics stick to you the most are when Kristensen keeps repeating a line, such as "it's been years/and we don't speak" in the bridge of "We Were Blood," and "will we ever sleep?" in the chorus of "When Will We Ever Sleep," but the constant hammering of these milquetoast lines don't make them any more substantial. Better cases are in tracks that deal with the critique of religion: with lines like "explain yourself/the lies you have told/those holy words are poison to our souls" in "Three Poisons," and "to get to holy water, you're not even close/it's when you stop believing, is when it hurts the most" in "Dig With Your Hands," there are some lyrics worth flexing the eardrums in order to catch. // 5

Overall Impression: This is a textbook case of the "sophomore slump." "Black Soul Choir" is unremarkable as a whole, and it's easy to spot which tracks had more invested in them and which tracks were destined to be fillers. The good news in all of this is that this is not the "end all-be all" for Wolves Like Us. While "Black Soul Choir" is indeed a tiff in their discography, it can also be a reference point of how to make a better third album - if and when they decide to. Mistakes can't be undone, but the next best thing is to learn from them and not make them again, and hopefully with "Black Soul Choir," Wolves Like Us can learn that it takes more than being from Norway to make a reputable metal album. // 4

- Sam Mendez (c) 2014

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