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Wolverine - "Communication Lost" (CD)

Wolverine - "Communication Lost" CD cover image

"Communication Lost" track listing:

1. Downfall
2. Into the Great Nothing
3. Poison Ivy
4. Your Favourite War
5. Embrace
6. Pulse
7. What Remains
8. In Memory of Me
9. In the Quiet Dawn
10. Communication Lost
11. A Beginning

Reviewed by on July 14, 2011

"If Opeth, Ayreon, Daylight Dies, Stratovarius, and Riverside decided to make a lovechild band, it would sound like something along the lines of Wolverine."

If Opeth, Ayreon, Daylight Dies, Stratovarius, and Riverside decided to make a lovechild band, it would sound like something along the lines of Wolverine. The band walks a tightrope, balancing between delicate soft passages and powerful, melodic, proggy pomp. The band consists of the Zell brothers Mikael and Stefan on guitar and vocals respectively, Thomas Jansson on bass, Marcus Losbjer on drums and backing vocals, and Per Henriksson on keyboards -- there must be something in the water in Sweden producing such talent. This is their fourth album, but their second release on Candlelight Records.

"Communication Lost" starts on a surreal death-dive in the track, "Downfall," which pushes ahead into "Into The Great Nothing," with scathing lyrics commenting on the consumerist ways of the western world through one man's addiction to it. As cliché as rebelling against consumerism is, Wolverine makes this experience unique by exploring thickly-layered melodic vocals backed by apocalyptic keyboards and a dynamic rhythm section.

"Poison Ivy" begins on classical guitar and cello, supporting the rich tenor of vibrato-heavy vocalist Stefan Zell. Zell's leads and harmony vocals set him easily in the camp of Symphony X's Sir Russell Allen and Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson in terms of feel, range, and power. This song evolves to be a highlight of the album for the grandiosity of its key changes and backing string section.

"Your Favorite War" feeds off of "Poison Ivy," giving a different perspective in the same situation as the lyrics to "Poison Ivy." At this point, the production value of the record should be very obvious to listeners. The album's mixing is lush, full of depth, and each instrument is rich and clear. This is the stuff audiophiles will literally shit themselves over, as it makes the music experience that much better. Gloomy chunky riffs abound here, as well an expert guitar solo fitting the mood of the song.

"Embrace" starts out with a ballad feel similar to the start of "Into The Great Nothing," but takes on lyrics of greater importance, clearly about the gravity of losing someone the writer prizes above the world. The song moves deftly through key changes to make this an unforgettable power ballad. The steady beat in "Pulse" opens up the band's musical palette further, backed by a dirty bass. The key changes just keep coming, and the band's ability to make them count and still link up to the rest of the song is quite commendable. In an explosion of melody, the huge chorus bleeds conviction.

The lyrics on "What Remains" are in the same vein as "Into The Great Nothing," and the song is performed with just vocals, piano, and cello for a nice rest in the album. "In Memory of Me" comes in full-force with prog rhythms and is a stand-out moment for the combination of drums, mellotron/synth, and electric guitars. The band's pacing is also very even here. The aftertaste of the song smacks of Sentenced as it fades out.

"In The Quiet of Dawn" moves like a funeral dirge and churns into yet another powerhouse of melody throughout its course. "Communication Lost," the longest song on the album at over nine minutes, surprises with a Dream-Theater-meets-Tool feel. "A Beginning" ends the album in a new-age keyboard fashion, which could be really cool if you're into similar-sounding video game soundtracks or really lame if you don't dig Enya-type things. It's not an essential track and probably the only thing lacking on the album.

Highs: "Poison Ivy," "Pulse"

Lows: "A Beginning"

Bottom line: File under: Swedish metal essentials.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)