Sweden is pretty well renowned for its Progressive Metal outfits, though it’s an uncommon occasion that one would garner the attention of an outlet outside of regular Prog. circles, but this is what happened years back with an interest being taken in WOLVERINE by the famous/infamous (depending on who you are) Kerrang magazine. At first one might think this a sheer accident/coincidence given that said media source is normally associated with mainstream pandering and rock radio favorites. But if their latest offering “Communication Lost” is any indication of a consistent sound since their birth, it’s not totally surprising that such an interest would exist.
While largely conforming to the expected blend of 70s Progressive Rock and DREAM THEATER trappings that often define bands in the scene, this is an outfit that is all but equally compatible with the popular Alternative/Industrial/Gothic sound popularized by Lacuna Coil and a few others. The landscapes are largely depressing, the song structures are symmetrical and scarcely wander beyond a typical verse/chorus formula, and the tempo is largely slow to mid-paced while making few occasions for gimmicks and technical tricks. Sometimes hints of this modern style intermingle with a sort of PINK FLOYD aesthetic as is the case of “Embrace”, while other songs such as “Pulse” and “In The Quiet Of Dawn” cram in some ambient tendencies in the mold of THE NEW ORDER or ENIGMA.
The clearest distinction that this carries from most albums of its type, and also its greatest flaw, is an overriding sense of sameness and safeness. This is an album that sort of coasts along and is pushed forward primarily through atmospherics and a rather well pulled off vocal job courtesy of Stefan Zell, who comes off as a unique middle ground between James LaBrie and Bono. Guitar gymnastics and elaborate keyboard solos are scarcely present, while droning lines and layered textures intermingle in a somber nebula of sound. Things sort of come to a head in the title song “Communication Lost”, where things sound the closest to an orthodox DREAM THEATER character and things are given a bit more time to develop out of the predictable structural sets that this album carries aplenty.
This isn’t an album that should be outright ignored by those who like their Metal more laid back, esoteric and socially relevant, but it is largely content to get the job done and doesn’t break down any new frontiers. Perhaps the best term to describe it is sufficient, filling all of the obligatory aspects of a listenable and catchy album, yet hardly distinguishing itself from a number of similar acts who have taken this format into an even more simple direction. But anyone who wants something roughly along the same lines as “Black Clouds And Silver Linings”, with a small helping of latter day KATATONIA, this might make a decent addition to an already established collection.
(Online July 2, 2011)