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In The Presence Of Wolves – Of Two Minds Stages 1-2: The Ape And The Cage Award winner

In The Presence Of Wolves
Of Two Minds Stages 1-2: The Ape And The Cage
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 19 June 2017, 7:39 AM

IN THE PRESENCE OF WOLVES is a Progressive Rock/Metal band based out of the South New Jersey/Philadelphia Pennsylvania area. Formed in 2009 but not fully realized until 2012, the band released their debut full-length in 2015 entitled “Thalassas.” Their new EP here is a concept album, exploring themes of mental illness, emotion struggles, and the five stages of grief. There are five tracks on the EP. The opening track, “As We Speak, Pt. 1,” begins with a melancholy piano melody, acoustic guitars and vocals that speak of “the voices in your head are calling” and “the creatures on your skin are crawling.” ­­Vini’s speaks of these delusions vocals in the tenor range that are clear and charming, full of expressiveness and emotion. Musically I am reminded of the band COHEED AND CAMBRIA, though that is too simple of a comparison because they have their own style of course. The song turns heavier and darker when Vini sings the line “these meds will help you through.” The schism for me is akin to the lyrics and the story.

“The One Who Fell To Earth is funkier and groovier, establishing a dissonant sound that keeps the listener sticking to the rhythm and meter, and hard struck notes that thud around you and inside you. Here you get the bonus of listening to some instrumental prowess from the band, which is impressive. However the song is not sterilie but rather quite warm and welcoming. The keyboard melodies have that Jordan Rudess tone at times which is familiar and pleasing. The blood-curling scream at the end hears the song end in anguish. “White Noise” has a great opening clean guitar riff that the vocals dance above in a connective melody that is absolutely blissful. It’s such a pretty sound but there are underlying lyrical elements of pain and an agony that threaten to rise to the surface. I had to play this several times without a writer’s ear and just to enjoy it because it is just so beautiful.

“The Ape And The Cage” is the epic track on the album, closing in on ten minutes. Here the five stages of grief really come to life. The track is like a sleeping bear. Nuzzled in his warm cave he is content to sleep and let your presence go without concern. But if you nudge him enough, he rises to life to shred you pages of paper in the vortex of a tornado. The old saying of “anger is more useful than despair” rings true. There is frailty in despair but anger can motivate someone to ends that seem unattainable. There are indeed a bevy of emotions that the song pushes the listener to experience, and the things that make all of our personalities unique dictate what that means for each of us, individually. Can you hold the memories of a lost loved one in pleasure or in sadness? When will you ever reach a point where the wound is no longer bleeding? “Manipulation Under Anesthesia” is the closing track. “Wait until the drugs kick in” is the taunting opening lyric line. It sounds like an internal struggle is occurring, where the subject cannot resolve their conflicting emotions. The music is very supportive of the theme. At times the song is reflective of grace and refinement while other times moving forward quickly and lashing out at you along the way.

Overall, this is a wonderful album and concept theme. It’s such an emotional and personal listening experience that you cannot help to be drawn in their world of interchanging darkness and light, and it’s a strongly crafted fit between music and theme. The band lets their musicianship show, which is obviously vigorous, but do not let it overpower the central elements of their songwriting. It’s a unique Prog album in that regard. If I could play an instrument this well, I could only imagine the temptation to showcase my skills and it would surely win out.  I would end up with an album that could register with The Guinness Book of Records as the most technically difficult sound of all time, but I’d be stuck playing it in my basement by myself because it would appeal to so few. That is definitely not the case here, as the band invites you into their world with a warm smile, but at the same time a promise of introspection that you need to be prepared for.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. As We Speak, Pt. 1
2. The One Who Fell To The Earth
3. White Noise
4. The Ape And The Cage
5. M.U.A. (Manipulation Under Anestheisa)
Vini Stamato - Bass/Vocals
Chris Capitanio - Lead Guitar/Vocals
Mason Ingling - Drums/Vocals
Jim Ellis - Rhythm Guitar
Record Label: Independent


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