Album Review: Werewolves - My Enemies Look and Sound Like Me
Reviewed by Sam Jones
For a band that only formed in 2019, discovering Werewolves are now on their fourth full length release is pretty staggering. Releasing an album so far, every year and recently signing onto Prosthetic Records, Werewolves have been absolutely getting themselves out there and have been putting Melbourne, Australia back on the world map for extreme metal. My Enemies Look And Sound Like Me is the first time I’ve actually listened to Werewolves proper for I first discovered the band last year through their From The Cave To The Grave record, which received numerous bouts of praise from reviewers and fans alike. When I saw this record become available, I jumped at the chance to see what Werewolves were capable of.
If you were looking for an easy opening into this record then Werewolves will leave you deeply disappointed, for their first track is a trial by fire; a blinding flurry of ferocity greets you as the band throw caution to the wind and subject you to every punch and impact they can feasibly hurl. You have to respect a band that forgoes any concept of songwriting diversity and elects instead for a full-scale pummelling at every moment of every track throughout a record. As a result, the record is fast and does not hold your hand, opting to believe in your own capacity to hang on tight for dear life as the band play and race on ahead. It’s nice to experience some Australian extreme metal for a change, and a band that aren’t concerned with ensuring their audience is comfortable or ready prior to beginning their onslaught.
Much of the intensity derived from this record stems from how the drums throw out all pretenses of safety, throwing out massive swathes of blast beats with bass drums, Tom-toms and cymbals that blend together seamlessly whereby it doesn’t feel like a cacophony of chaotic elements spurned haphazardly but a tightly controlled unit that understands precisely how chaos can be maintained for extensive periods, especially when these blast beats can last throughout most of a particular track or two. Half of this impact boils down to how they’ve been mixed into the record, which alone is exceptional, for the drums manage to convey this deep sense of unrepentant ruthlessness but the intensity and speed by which the drums are performed at never overwhelmed the rest of the band’s performance. It excellently underlays the album with a rhythm and presence that’s impossible to ignore but never yearns to steal the spotlight at any point.
The vast majority of Werewolves’ songwriting flies in the face of what modern extreme metal would deem as quality riffs, for the band’s approach to riff structuring is not to focus on the blockier, meatier side of songwriting but, rather to invest time and effort into writing riffs and licks that are not only fast and quick off the fretboard, but additionally slice through the record as if cutting past the rest of the band’s performance. By paying attention, as the band effectively leave us little choice but to do so, you’ll find their riffs often consist of uninterrupted channels of strumming that’s seamlessly unending as the fretboard is scoured from stock to base. The real technicality that Werewolves offer up is founded not merely in their songwriting but in answering the question: how can you get the most out of a technique in guitar playing where there’s otherwise little room to be played with? My Enemies Look And Sound Like Me suggests one viable possibility: there’s actually a lot you can do should your songwriting be open for such ideas.
Werewolves might also be on the few modern extreme metal bands that possess vocals that perfectly encapsulate the vibe their songwriting juts up. Utilising a dual-vocal delivery, Werewolves appeal to both sides of the fence who prefer the guttural and more searing form of vocal performances. For the most part, when the band are undergoing their more brutal style and the riffs are flying here and everywhere their guttural approach is brought into play, however that can soon be switched up and the seething form is then implemented. It’s nice to recognise that it isn’t so cut and dry that you can predict when the vocal styles will switch, keeping us on our toes and ready for anything that comes our way. Much like the drums, the vocals are mixed to a plane within the record that enables their power to emanate without difficulty but doesn’t detract from the full band’s performance. The vocals are as unyielding and unrelenting as any instrumentation this record throws up, which likely aids the band in blending everything together into the maelstrom this record feels to be.
In conclusion, Werewolves showcase a blistering record that holds nothing back, doesn’t compromise on songwriting variety nor track diversity. My Enemies Look And Sound Like Me is completely unapologetic in how it approaches extreme metal, throwing everything it can possible muster at us whilst still retaining complete accessibility and an ease to follow where their songwriting is taking us. Dishing out this volume of might one track after another could become disorienting for some bands, yet Werewolves have a firm understanding that you need to temper ferocity with control and that’s in abundance here. If I was unsure about Werewolves’ ability to throw out one album after another, year on year, since 2020 onwards, then I’m fully on board with what they may do in future, especially if that means a fifth album come 2024. Their songwriting may be much more stripped down and straightforward than blockier forms of songwriting and riffs are, but Werewolves are undeniably a force to be reckoned with now.