Released: 1999, Zazania
This is one of my reviews that has along intro so if ya don’t want to read my theories on Wolverine and just want to get to the meat of the review, skip down a paragraph.
I picked up this 5 song EP on the recommendation of a mail-order retailer in the States and I’m glad I did. Have you had one of those moments where you are correct in your prediction but no one believes you? This is my story…My initial assessment of Wolverine back in early 2000 was that these guys would be big. Now of course, I didn’t bother to tell anyone my theory, partly because I had no one to tell who would listen. I also don’t bother making big public predictions because most likely they will not come true and you look silly, if anyone remembers. I figured Wolverine had what it takes. So now when I can claim being “an original fan”, one believes me, or cares! Some critical types might say in sarcastic tones…. “Sure JP, you bandwagon jumping poser!, Yeah…you knew about Wolverine ages ago…sure ya did….” Anyway, it is fun discovering a band, hoping they will get the recognition they deserve and then claim bragging rights, by pretentiously stating in reviews that I was an original fan! In all seriousness it was a fluke that I stumbled across this little gem and I am genuinely pleased that they are making it bigger. Watch for a review of the full length, THE WINDOW PURPOSE this month as well.
Wolverine are dark progressive metal with death overtones. Everything about this debut EP is dark…the lyrics, the music, the packaging, all black and purple, very nice…It has a great cover very ominous in a non-threatening way and sad at the same time. The band is four piece from the Netherlands founded by the Zell Brothers in 1995. After several demos and a few line up changes the band released this EP, which was later re-released in 2001. The CD is about 32 minutes long with 4 of the five songs well over 6 minutes, not too long and self indulgent, but interesting.
I really like the dual vocal effect with the drummer supplying the death growls and the bassist supplying the clean vocals. Both are very talented and the death growls are used sparing and effectively adding another dark dimension to the already dark music. The band also uses the services of a string quartet to good effect, never overbearing but very complimentary. Keyboards also are in the mix but not prominently.
Lyrically the songs all center around relationships, usually in a sense of grief, sorrow or failure. The lyrics are mature and delve into the emotional, spiritual side of relationships, more than the physical. Very somber material! The production is very good, the mix is nice, and the songs structures are complex yet not too note-dense as some prog bands who tend to get all excited on the fretboard and go overboard. There is a quiet restraint in Wolverine, perhaps I would have liked to see them cut loose a little more. My hopes were answered because I heard the new CD recently and it is even better than this one!
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again because it applies so well to Wolverine. I really like this new wave of bands that are putting the term “metal” back into progressive metal. (Evergrey, Zero Hour etc…) One complaint. Normally I don’t like to end a review on a negative but the band name…Wolverine?! It leaves something to be desired. Maybe I read too many X-Men comics as a kid, maybe I’m thinking of Entombed or maybe it is all those 80’s bands named after stinging, biting animals, reptiles and insects, but Wolverine to me does not automatically make me think of cool, progressive metal with death touches. Maybe that is part of the originality, it’s not just another predictable, semi-mystical, two-word combo, with terms like “Ever”, “Dark”, “Eve” etc…The name is growing on me, but I cringe when I tell my friends I’m listening to a band called Wolverine…it lacks…metal credibility…maybe Steel Wolverine would have been better…just kidding! Ah well, who cares it is the music that counts and this music is awesome!! Check out the band at http://www.drpr.vuurwerk.nl/bands/wolverine