Album Review: Wolves Like Us - Brittle Bones
Reviewed by Dan Barnes
The Norwegian four-piece’s first album in five years arrives without the need for fanfare or posturing.
Opening tracks 'Stand Up to Get Down' and 'Stay Cold' sound and feel like a restrained version of Helmet. Both are solid alternative rock numbers but there was part of me that felt, after so long away, Wolves Like Us could have come back with more fire. However, following on from the by the numbers of the first couple of songs, Brittle Bones throws a curve ball and opens 'Property of Dortmund' with a single acoustic guitar which eventually gives way to a huge riff and it is at this point that the album really starts to reveal the myriad of ideas contained within.
There is no doubt that Wolves Like Us are a tight unit but the rhythm section’s incredible work on Brittle Bones makes for a compelling collection and allows the twin guitars to fill the songs with pounding chords or, when needed, to simply lay down a fragile line. It is the use of contrasting styles by Wolves Like Us that makes Brittle Bones such an interesting record; one minute they’re spitting bile over massive riffs, as on 'Winter Chains', and the next they’re delivering heart-felt melancholy over soft guitar tones.
There are times when they revert to type and return to a latter-era-Helmet styling, as on 'Devil Stare, Part Two', but when listened to in the context of the album, with the ebb and flow of tempo and delivery, as a whole it all fits together.
Wolves Like Us’ musical palette even extends to the deep and doomy, with 'On the Low' opening at a glacial plod before accelerating as it builds in urgency. Brittle Bones is an album of ideas and it is almost as if the record has been gearing the listener up to closing track 'Plastic On Fire'. Here, it feels as though all that has gone before had been an overture for this: the contrast of light and shade, the heavy and the subtle, the ferocity and the haunting, all are coalesced in this sub-four minute track.
After five years away Wolves Like Us have delivered a fine alternative rock record in the vein of Dead to the World-era Helmet and in doing so have positioned themselves as a band that needs to be taken seriously.
Wolves Like Us' album 'Brittle Bones' is released via Pelagic Records on October 25th.