Album Review: Trespass - Wolf At The Door
Reviewed by Sam Jones
There are multiple underrated names amidst the NWOBHM sound, one of whom is the centrepiece for this review. Trespass can date themselves all the way back to the beginning of the NWOBHM scene, to 1978, from Suffolk, England. Yet, one explanation as to why many may not be familiar with Trespass is, despite their position as an early band amongst the scene, the band didn’t last long. Releasing merely Demos and an EP prior to their 1982 breakup the band really didn’t get far, other than a 1993 album release titled Head. But by 2014, over three decades on, the band reformed and unleashed their sophomore, self-titled record which brings us to the modern day. The last few years have seen the most consistent releases as yet from Trespass where they saw Footprints In The Rock drop in 2018. This brings us, five years on, to Wolf At The Door, and the band’s fourth album release. I have a soft spot for unknown NWOBHM and Trespass are no different.
It’s interesting how diverse the sounds of the NWOBHM can really be. Across Iron Maiden, Blitzkrieg, Millennium, Fist etc we get a really wide variety of soundscapes that help to differentiate one from the other. That much is just as prevalent with Trespass too, as the band showcase a more relaxed and easygoing atmosphere we can sink into. This isn’t so much a soundscape to feel the band’s intensity, rather a prolonged excursion into heavy metal that seeks to take its time and bask us within the journey taken from start to finish. I feel the vocals are the most prominent feature in this regard; we’ve experienced vocal performances whereby a band’s frontman is taking us on this ripping ride as we’re refused the option to take it easy. Trespass are the complete opposite; their vocal delivery is very calm and, while their music does everything you’d expect a retro metal record to do, it’s reminiscent of the earliest vocal deliveries such as Blue Cheer or Deep Purple. We know we’re moving in the necessary direction but the band are in no rush to see us there.
This notion of taking our time applies to the rest of the band too. The record on the whole certainly possesses a pacing that enables us to know we’re still progressing through the tracks, even while the band are not moving at faster rates than we’re used to experiencing. But even the guitar work and drumming is very relaxed and doesn’t speed itself up for anyone; as a result, the band require us to slow our rate of expediting the record and not the other way round. At nearly an hour long, the band effectively teach us we’re in for the long haul so we might as well put our feet up and enjoy the ride, for the destination is still a long way off. You can feel the calculated performances going into the instrumentation; I imagine some will comment on how this is impacted by the band’s age and this could be accredited to their 1978 inception (the band are far from young), but I actually liked the change of pace. It’s refreshing to encounter a record that isn’t racing to get from A to B; much of their songwriting has this deliberately methodical feel to it where every note or drum strike has greater weight because we’ve been conditioned into learning the band’s lax nature.
You’ll also find the band saw to it that Wolf At The Door is a very clean-sounding record as well. This shouldn’t really come as any surprise owing to the band’s NWOBHM origins and, frankly, a muddier form of production simply wouldn’t have suited the band’s aesthetic in this instance. The clarity provided helps the vocals to come across with not a bump along their recorded lines nor do the drums display any technical mishaps that would murk their performance. Cymbals clash with crisp resonance while Tom-Toms have this reserved strike that while isn’t massive in the mix, it does regardless possess the clenched impact you’d want to get out of the drums. Since the band’s tone isn’t one of overwhelming power, the clean production helps the band’s aesthetic by allowing their instrumentation to weave in and out of the hard hitting and softer variants of riff playing and songwriting.
This is one of the rare instances where a longer album actually comes in handy. This record is almost an hour long, and usually that can be a determining factor whether someone undergoes this journey. Yet, since Trespass are playing music that’s pretty easygoing and isn’t demanding too much of our attention or senses, the record really allows us to sit back and bask in everything Trespass have in store for us. It gives us the freedom to do whatever else we wish to do all the while the band’s songwriting is going on around us. Ultimately, Wolf At The Door is an album that sits alongside you as you go about your day to day business, where you can dip in and out of it when you choose, for you know the record will always be there upon your return.
In conclusion, Trespass’ Wolf At The Door is a record that definitely stands apart from the rest of their NWOBHM brethren. Instead of hitting us square in the fact time and again with power and light, Trespass instead opt for a more inclusive experience that definitely sees us playing the long game as opposed to receiving immediate satisfaction. As stated prior, this record is a long one but that length comes in handy for a change as audiences are given the freedom to go about as they wish all the while the band play. It’s sometimes a refreshing change of pace to come across a metal record that isn’t solely tuned to killing its audience; there’s nought wrong with an album, from time to time, that delights in entertaining for nothing more than the sole purpose of light hearted entertainment. I’d recommend this for sure, especially for those after a very retro approach to heavy metal.