Wolfborne is a an emerging Vancouver-based hard rock band, dedicated in their conviction that the genre is still relevant in the 2010s and a thing to savour. Their self-titled debut album intentionally de-emphasizes unconventional song structures, in order to project that old-timey rock and roll power chords groove with the classic verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus model. Unlike, say, AC/DC’s entire discography, the sound of each track is distinguished by different stylistic inspirations of prior staples of ‘rock’ , combined with a touch of new wave influence.
This is where the album’s mission statement lies: to merge all the memorable points of hard rock with a fresh twist of new elements. Brass boyish recklessness and power ballads, but with the cynicism of ’90s subject matter.
The result is a superbly produced album that is fun when it doesn’t take itself seriously. Tracks like “Sex Sells”, “Cannonball”, and “Stars Are Eyes” are good examples of this. The first of these tracks recalls Motörhead in its style , and is held together by some nice guitar squeals in the chorus. “Cannonball” and “Star Are Eyes” add a chunky rhythm to their formula, occasionally flirting with harsh rapid vocals, reminiscent of early Disturbed and System of a Down. All this warms you up to the last track, “Blue Smoke”. which goes back to the Motörhead-sort of chaos with another fun hook that really captures the spirit of hard rock in that time period.
The tracks that really didn’t work were the slow songs that aimed for a post-rock broodiness, as well as the emotion of ’70s power ballads. “Out In The Street”, “Let It Rain”, “Stranger” and “Milk Was A Bad Choice” would be great if the lyrical structure and content were more ambitious than a rhyming couplet for each power chord in the chorus. “Descending Rain” did have some fun arpeggios, and “Stranger” attempted at a ’90s Tool sort of sound defined by foreboding drums that trick the mind analyzing every line for hidden sub text. But, unlike Tool, there is no subtext, only overtly catchy choruses. “Funky Town” was the oddball track, as it was the only track clearly taking cues from Pretty Little Hate Machine era Nine Inch Nails.
Overall, Wolfborne, by all intentions, marks a radio-friendly attempt to cater to the demographic that request the same “classic rock” playlist everyday on the radio. It is the reason I can’t find a bar jukebox without an onslaught of glam rock, but their “metal” selection is but a handful of overplayed Metallica and Rage Against The Machine tracks. Subjectively speaking, I’m not a fan of the genre. I always found it curious that hard rock has its roots set in the concept of rebellion and pushing the envelope, yet for the most part bands do not push the envelope instrumentally or thematically.
However, Wolfborne is definitely providing a demanded good that the majority will enjoy, because the end product is hard, rebellious rock.
Check out Wolfborne!
Author: Alex Slakva