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Alpha Wolf – A Quiet Place To Die

Alpha Wolf
“A Quiet Place To Die”
by Brian Lowrie at 16 November 2020, 6:26 PM

I’m going to start off this review with a disclaimer: I’ve always had a bit of a light-hearted, albeit tongue-in-cheek appreciation for this particular style of heavy music. For those unfamiliar with Australian metalcore act Alpha Wolf, at first glance they sound like a typical breakdown-savvy, sample-heavy, windbreaker-wearing-tough-guy beatdown band, but I found their newest release, called “A Quiet Place To Die”, to be much more entertaining than more of the bands that saturate this niche subgenre within a subgenre. Whether or not this entertainment can be rooted in the subtle variances of their songs, or the strangely nostalgic impact of frontman Lochie Keogh’s vocal style and patterns is hard to say, but this album has definitely earned its spot in my gym playlist.

Opening the album with the title track “A Quiet Place To Die”, this track will more than likely be an opener to their live performances from now on; it’s a quick affair lasting only two and a half minutes, but properly sets the stage for the rest of the album. “Creep” only gets more intense, cuing an clock-like sample for the opener and following up the rest of the song with unnerving dissonance that resolves itself properly by the halfway point. “Golden Fate; Isolate” features some of the more interesting instrumental changes, featuring some lead guitar tracks  throughout that often switch between being the focal point and accentuating the palm-muted aggression. “Akudama” continues the idea of lead guitar experimentation and ultimately is one of the more technical tracks on the album all around; the drum fills feel constant, the guitars are busier, and the vocalist even experiments with busier lines than before. “Acid Romance” is clearly more of a vocalist-centric track, but plays off more like the idea of Humanity’s Last Breath with turntable samples. This isn’t a bad thing by any means, as it serves for a more colossal sounding track, and regarding the last section, the ends have definitely justified the means. Trading off with the instruments for center stage, “Rot In Pieces” sounds like something that should have been on the DOOM video game soundtrack. It’s one of the busier, heavier, more balls-to-the-wall tracks on the album, being a constant barrage of low notes that seems to end at the right time.

“Bleed 4 You” ended up being my favorite track on the album (despite its somewhat cringe-worthy title), as it’s a more somber experience that stylistically wants to branch out in all aspects. It still technically sounds like the other songs, but the counterbalance of the clean guitars and distorted guitars, as well as the more dynamic vocal ranges in this track, ended up proving the band is more versatile than they are ultimately letting on with this album. Of course, following up “Bleed 4 You” with “Ultra Violent Violence” did not do “Ultra Violent Violence” much justice; It’s a powerful track, sure, with plenty of moments to beat your friends up to, however I was honestly more interested in what the band was teasing with “Bleed 4 You” than I was with going back to the early stylistic offerings of the album. Of course, even though I didn’t get exactly what I asked for, some of the elements in “The Mind Bends To A Will Of It’s Own” felt more deserved and thought out. Admittedly, the fastest way to my heart is with a good, solid, angry-sounding blast beat, and listening to drummer Mitch Fogarty get to be let loose on this track was more than satisfying. “Restricted (R 18+)” follows in the same way, and Fogarty’s tight double-bass work against the slower guitar and bass feels a bit more purposefully chaotic. Unfortunately, this was one of the harder songs for me to get acquainted with,  as it feels a bit more scatter-brained than the other tracks. Ending the album with “Don’t Ask”, the hardcore elements of the album shine the brightest here, but this track also feels like a proper sum of the albums parts and serves as a perfect conclusion to the record. It’s also nice to see more ambient overlays and guitar textures playing off of the more aggressive passages.

I know I said my admiration for metalcore was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but to be fair, it has become a pretty saturated genre in recent times, with most of the bands just becoming slight variances of each other. It also doesn’t help that this style is more suited for a live environment, and in my opinion loses a lot of it’s edge in recorded formats. However, there is something about this record that stuck with me; I’ve really caught myself drifting away from heavier music in recent years, but I guess I just needed an ass-beater like “A Quiet Place To Die”. I’m definitely curious to see where this band takes their sound next, and I really hope they can find a way to improve on this record.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. A Quiet Place To Die
2. Creep
3. Golden Fate; Isolate
4. Akudama
5. Acid Romance
6. Rot In Pieces
7. Bleed 4 You
8. Ultra Violet Violence
9. The Mind Bends To A Will Of It’s Own
10. Restricted (R 18+)
11. Don’t Ask
Lineup:
Lochie Keogh – Lead Vocals
Scottie Simpson – Lead Guitar
Sabian Lynch – Rhythm Guitar
John Arnold – Bass, Vocals
Mitch Fogarty – Drums
Record Label: Greyscale Records
     


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Edited 05 December 2020
 

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