Review: “A Quiet Place To Die” by Alpha Wolf
Taking their name from the 2011 Liam Neeson survivalist movie “The Grey” based on the short story “Ghost Walker” by Ian MacKenzie Jeffers, that tells the tale of a group of oil-men stranded in Alaska after a plane crash, who must survive a pack of timber wolves stalking them amidst mercilessly cold weather, Alpha Wolf are Australian Nu-Metalcore band hailing from Melbourne, Victoria. After numerous line up changes they released EP “Fault” in 2019 to critical acclaim and toured the World over and now Sabian Lynch (rhythm guitar), John Arnold (bass guitar, vocals), Scottie Simpson (lead guitar), Mitch Fogarty (drums) and Lochie Keogh (lead vocals) are back with a full length in “A Quiet Place To Die” produced, mixed and mastered by Lance Prenc (Void of Vision, Polaris, Gravemind) to test our Metal.
The album deals with a number of social issues including suicide prevention and as with their previous releases it’s shrouded in darkness; that Emmure influence and Deathcore leanings are still there in abundance and from the title track that opens up the record, it’s clear that Alpha Wolf mean business. The riffs are slick and rhythms pounding as Keogh vents cathartic lyrics about about being on the edge, just a second away. “Creep” continues what we can only describe as a brave expression of intense raw emotion; sleep with one eye open if you want to stay alive. How many tow trucks does it need for this many breakdowns? It takes a nation of millions to hold them back. “Golden Fate; Isolate” is a subtle reference to “Golden Fate; Water Break” from the bands 2017 album “Mono” a brute of riff ideas that Josha Travis would be proud of that attacks in waves with a variety of heaviness to keep you on your toes, lyrics like “You took your own life, where’s my goodbye?” as somber as they come. First single “Akudama” was a signal of lethal intent with the album as a whole, a signal flare let off into the sky front loaded with mosh pit starting jagged riffs and violent aggression, a track that you need to listen to several times over because the first few times you’ll be lost in the matrix of headbanging and jaw dropping Gloom Metal riffs.
Creepy, sinister moments lurk in the darkness of “Acid Romance” as Alpha Wolf keep the energy high and some warped vinyl scratching adds an extra instrumental turn. There are some Deftones esq atmospherics but they’re cleverly kept to a minimal endeavor, the band preferring to hack and slash their way through the Jungle that surrounds them rather than ascend to the light. Keeping the same dynamic in the background, “Rot In Pieces” becomes a juggernaut of pulverizing rhythmic poundings that turns the World upside down and inside out with some KoRn esq moments also present with lots of little nuanced moments that pop out of the mix like something from a horror film. The first left field moment is the Post-Hardcore influenced “Bleed 4 You” which sees the band joined by Lizi Blanco of The Beautiful Monument. It still has a decent amount of punch and weight behind it with some solid mid-track breakdown parts but is clearly an experiment away from the bands usual sound as they look to broaden their horizons and there is something distinctly unconformable about listening to it, it just doesn’t sit right until the fourth or fifth play when you get it. “Ultra-Violet Violence” then brings it back to the abrasive full throttle tendencies of the first half of the record with a heavy bounce, Keogh changing up his vocals back to the violent venomous intent of the earlier cuts, Arnold’s backing vocals giving a Deathcore bark that Keogh’s shriller tones just don’t reach.
Perhaps an ode to Mental Health, “The Mind Bends to a Will of Its Own” wrenches the spine out with powerful grooves and Deathcore riffs galore, punching and punching until there is nothing but a bloody mess and no energy left. Keogh rants and raves about what’s going on inside his head with rapid fire verses that hit with a relentlessness, his restless, awkward soul something that we can all relate to. The music makes you want to move, the lyrics engage your brain after that’s over, if you want to digest them. “Restricted (R18+)” came with a age restricted video and links to suicide prevention websites, the track itself a depiction of an inner darkness that comes out at night in dreams that terrify. It’s violent with irrational mood swings that wait for the first light as it echos the albums brutality with unhinged lyrics and gritty integrity. “Don’t Ask…” follows a more atmospheric path with melodic interplay between segments of harder hitting riffs. It’s alright not to be alright, things change over time and Alpha Wolf have grown from being a straight up Deathcore outfit to having so much more endeavor to them; they aren’t afraid to take a risk and when they do it pays off handsomely [8.5/10]
- A Quiet Place To Die
- Golden Fate; Isolate
- Acid Romance
- Rot In Pieces
- Bleed 4 You (ft. Lizi Blanco of The Beautiful Monument)
- Ultra-Violet Violence
- The Mind Bends to a Will of Its Own
- Restricted (R18+)
- Don’t Ask…
“A Quiet Place To Die” by Alpha Wolf is out now via SharpTone Records