Released: 2009, Arclight Records
Metalcore is a genre that in recent years has become reminiscent of late 80s glam and thrash, as endless clones of the movement’s original leading innovators are turning out in droves. These new bands, instead of presenting anything original or taking risks, have eschewed innovation and are content instead to bang away tunelessly as their vocalists rip their throats bloody raw with a stream of indecipherable lyrics. Pack of Wolves is a band from Austin, Texas that shares some of the generic characteristics of emerging metalcore, but also shows some depth and willingness to experiment. Advertised and promoted as the newest project of former At All Cost member Trey Ramirez, Pack of Wolves has followed up their debut LP WALL CRUSHER with the new album BETRAYER, released on independent label Arclight Records. Pack of Wolves has built a loyal regional core of fans, and this album will receive world wide distribution and coincide with a national tour for the band.
BETRAYER is not an album that pushes hard against any musical boundaries. Trey Ramirez handles guitar and vocal duties, and his range is higher than many metalcore singers, with a leaning more towards the black metal vocal style. The opening track, “The Here And Now” is the exception, as Ramirez’s vocals are vintage metalcore, with throaty screams accompanied by a mid-paced riff before an obligatory breakdown about half way through the song. The title track is laced with melodic passages and impressive percussion work from Adrian Carrillo. “Wall Crusher” is the song that best showcases the latent potential of the band, complete with a dark melodic riff, aggressive vocals, and pulverizing starts and stops. The only stylistic departure is “The Death of My Old Self”, an effects laden instrumental, with low-mixed reverb vocals wailing in the background and the use of piano to end the song “Evaders.”
There are a few problems with this album. Each song is delivered with professional execution, but the raw production, particularly in the thin drums, detracts from the intensity of much of the album. Pack of Wolves occasionally loses focus, especially with some of the riffs and solos that awkwardly channel Maiden one minute and Mastodon the next. The chief problem with this album though, and others like it, is that it fails to distinguish itself in a genre that is growing exponentially. Sure there is some decent stuff on here, but much of it has been done before and I am not feeling the need to have any more of these bands in my music library. I suspect many others will feel the same way. On the positive side, I do hear plenty of potential in this band and there are signs that they can move on to bigger and better things as long as they crave more than a small, loyal core of followers. Fans that like At All Cost and other metalcore bands will probably enjoy this album, but it is not an essential acquisition.