Album Review :
Wolves At The Gate - Types & Shadows
By Joshua Olson in Reviews | 8 Comments
Solid State Records has enjoyed quite the stellar year with releases from Silent Planet, Forevermore, Norma Jean, and Fit For A King. Now Wolves At The Gate are closing out the year with Types & Shadows, and it’s a fitting record to finish such a monumental year for the the label. They’re back with their third record on Solid State, and they mean business.
Types & Shadows summed up in a word would be “dense”. Its thirteen tracks have a runtime over fifty-four minutes, the barrage of high-gain rock’n’roll rarely lets up, and Stephen Cobucci’s weighty lyrics occupy the majority of the songs. There isn’t much breathing room on the record, instead it’s filled to the brim with everything Wolves at the Gate fans could want from a new release.
Types & Shadows kicks off with “Asleep”, which I dare say is the perfect opening song. It thoroughly establishes the pace of the record without losing any energy drifting between Wolves’ heavy and melodic stylings. The sonic motif of Types & Shadows centers around the group’s simplistic approach of guitar, bass, and drums. While the instrumentation isn’t terribly diverse, dynamic changes keep the record alive and fluid. Most of the songs are raging with energy and intensity, which is best evidenced in “Anathema” and “Broken Bones”. “Fountain” and “Lowly” bring the tempo down with the former incorporating acoustic guitar in its verses and a somewhat industrial feel in its choruses. “Convalesce” and “Chasing the Wind” notably showcase Stephen’s capability of lead guitar, which is peppered throughout the record to provide additional texture to the songs.
Lyrically, the record is no walk in the park. As is standard Wolves At The Gate style, the subject matter is unapologetically religious in nature. Many of the songs center around the broken human condition, the need for a savior, and the grace extended to reconcile us out of our sinful state. Due to the depth of these subjects the lyrics require a certain amount of time to in order to properly dig into them. One lyrical standout on the record is “Hindsight”, which powerfully tells the story of Peter from a first-person perspective reflecting on the highs and lows of his interactions with Jesus during His ministry.
Types & Shadows shows Wolves At The Gate reaching the peak of the sonic abilities they’ve shown throughout their career. The sheer number of songs on Types & Shadows is the only serious drawback with the record. Longtime fans won’t be complaining, but the length can make it a bit cumbersome for new listeners to get through. Aside from that, Wolves At The Gate have released what is arguably their strongest record, and effectively closed out a massively successful year for Solid State Records.
I’m curious as to how people would rank this against their previous albums. It took a while for their first two albums to click with me, but I fell in love with Types and Shadows instantly. Like, despite the style change, they’re as solid as ever in terms of instrumentation, vocals, and lyrics, but I think this album is way catchier as a whole.
I think for me it would be (without their covers or acoustic EP):
Types & Shadows
We Are the Ones EP
Wolves at the Gate seem to be following a similar trajectory to Thrice. Funny, because from what I’ve read online and heard from friends, fans are similarly split: some wish they would go back to Captors/We Are the Ones (like some Thrice fans whose fav albums are Artist in the Ambulance/Illusion of Safety) while others dig the change in sound and see it as progression. I enjoy all their material, but def fall in the latter camp!
I totally agree on WatG following a similar trajectory to Thrice. I’m expecting some Vheissu-esque evolution on LP4.
Amen! I’m already excited for #4. haha
I’ve been listening to this a lot for a few days now, maybe a week. I like it more and more, though it was a slow start to acceptance (by the standards of a band that ran away with Album of the Year for me last time). I’m not sure if I like this more than the last full-length, but there is a lot of enjoyment to be had. “Hindsight” is a really cool, interesting song, probably my favorite.
Thank you for the review! I’m still considering this. I never fully absorbed the previous two. I felt like I purchased them at last because of all the praise they received. In theory I enjoy everything about them but I couldn’t get any breathing room out of those. The production sounded claustrophobic. The songs just never stuck despite many listens. I thought their move, style-wise toward something more open here sounded much more attractive to my ears. I really liked all the preview tracks they released. I thought your comment about it being hard to get through interesting. I thought… Read more »
Great to see this reviewed on IVM. While WatG have slowly been moving from metalcore to a more post-hardcore / hard rock sound with each new release, ‘Hindsight’ and ‘Lowly’ still both took me surprise (both in a good way). ‘Types & Shadows’ is my favourite Solid State release in what has been an exceptional year for the label. Said it once, but I’ll say it again: Abishai Collingsworth is one of the best drummers in the game right now – heaviness & groove in perfect balance! I can’t think of anyone who is similar to his style. “The sheer… Read more »
Actually on 2nd thoughts, I realise I’m wrong: Alex Camarena of Silent Planet is definitely just as skilled in bringing groove to metalcore.