Released: 2011, Candlelight Records
Sweden’s Wolverine has been around long enough to need no introduction, but it is worth noting that the band’s last album was released five long years ago, 2006’s STILL. Fans that were on board at the beginning but have not checked in recently will find that the new album COMMUNICATION LOST barely straddles the borders of metal anymore. Thus, the evolution (or de-evolution, depending on your perspective) of the band from melodic death metal to progressive hard rock is mostly complete. There is still enough crunch in the guitars to warrant this as metal, but this is dark progressive rock primarily.
Wolverine has lost some of its aggression but that does not mean the music is not impressive, because it is. Ambient, lush, and slow to reveal all its treasures, COMMUNICATION LOST is an album that requires full involvement and multiple listens before the intricacies begin to sink in. Singer Stefan Zell is clearly one of the strong points, commanding an amazing arsenal of moods and tones, able to convey sorrow and power with equal aplomb as the track “Embrace” reveals. The band matches him step for step, Marcus Losbje providing percussive joy while the guitars and keyboards all add to the tapestry of melancholy. Hidden within many of the tracks though are uplifting passages, as in “What Remains” that briefly shine the sun on a cloudy and shadowed land. Wolverine is a band that defies easy comparisons. They sound like Opeth in places with touches of Fates Warning, Anathema and a dose of Pink Floyd, but their dynamics and ability to create and sustain a mood are frankly, astonishing.
Taken within the context of this style of music, COMMUNICATION LOST is nearly faultless, but not easy to grasp and far from uplifting. Jacob Hansen’s mix captures every note with clarity, the production matching the inspiring musical performances. Admittedly, this is not for everybody, and the prevalence of clean guitars and ethereal passages might be too many for fans that crave some crunch and gallop in their metal. However, if you appreciate mood and atmosphere with lots of arpeggios, acoustic guitars, and keyboards then COMMUNICATION LOST might very well sustain you for the rest of the year.