Alpha Wolf – ‘a quiet place to die’

By Dave Stewart

If you’re a devoted lover of heavy music and you keep up to speed with all the new acts rising through the ranks, the chances of you knowing about Alpha Wolf are pretty high. If that’s not a name you recognise it won’t stay that way for long, and their brand new sophomore record ‘a quiet place to die’ will make sure of it. The Australian quintet have made a name for themselves with their unique brand of violent heaviness, their most recent EP ‘Fault’ earning them a cult of loyal followers and a whole lot of positive acclaim. Here’s a little secret – this album is going to do the exact same thing.

This record contains a mixture of their lightest and heaviest work, carefully treading the line between both through eleven tracks of pure carnage. The singles they released set you up nicely, providing a generous tasting menu of all the delights that you’ll experience. The gigantic nu-metal tinged ‘Akudama’, the unrelenting chug-heavy ‘Creep’, the disturbing and intense ‘Restricted (R18)’ and the unexpected melodic anthem ‘Bleed 4 You’ are all glorious examples of what to expect from ‘a quiet place to die’. But as good and as heavy as they are, believe us when we say this – they merely scratch the surface of what’s on offer here, and there’s a whole host of goodies buried below.

Two of their heaviest songs to date are showcased on this record and they’ve sandwiched them together to make 6 minutes of gurn-worthy glory. ‘Acid Romance’ is wall to wall punishment, the groove-laced guitar filth of Scottie Simpson and Sabian Lynch setting its sights on your most tender areas to deliver devastating blows. Just when you think you’re safe, you discover they’ve made things even slower, unleashing a flurry of snarling vocals and visceral guitar noises that will no doubt become a firm live favourite. After zero recovery time, they rip into ‘Rot In Pieces’, a rage-fuelled monster propelled forwards by the powerful drum work of Mitchell Fogarty. Menacingly low biting guitars made even lower by John Arnold’s bellowing bass tone, unsettling silences and vocalist Lochie Keogh’s enraged roars of “I hope you’re buried without a eulogy to sit through” all come together in gloomy harmony, pendulously swinging through your skull like a wrecking ball.

‘Golden Fate; Isolate’ picks up where the previous instalments left off, utilising all the usual Alpha Wolf characteristics of bouncy hardcore riffs, ominous ambience, bone-crunching breakdowns and raw vocal delivery to keep you gripping tightly to the edge of your seat. ‘The Mind Bends To A Will Of Its Own’ is one of their most chaotic tracks in their discography, boasting a blend of thick chugs and frantic blast beats that surround you from every angle and overwhelm your senses. The title track is a short and sharp mission statement of intent, ‘Ultra Violet Violence’ is a sludgy and turbulent pit starter, and ‘Don’t Ask’ is a vast and soaring epic that closes the record in the most riotous yet beautiful way. They’ve demonstrated that they’re still in touch with their roots but they’re beginning to branch out and, based on the strength of this album, it looks like their branches are already beginning to bloom.

This record is formidable – a vicious, towering colossus hellbent on levelling everything in sight. It throws punch after endless punch, packing increasing amounts of weight behind every swing until you’re battered and bruised. This isn’t an unexpected trait as they’ve always had that kind of ferociousness in their sound, but not like this. The thing that makes this album stand out from the rest of their catalogue isn’t to do with the punch itself, but the way they’re throwing them and what they’re targeting. Alpha Wolf have shown that there’s more to them than seething rage and earth-shattering breakdowns. They have a melodic side, they feel pain and they know exactly where to hit you so that you can feel it too. They’ve revealed that there’s more in their arsenal than just breakdowns and they’re able to use all the weaponry with absolute precision.

If you’re already a fan of Alpha Wolf, then ‘a quiet place to die’ will satisfy all of your cravings and more. If you’re new to them and this is your first taste, you’ve arrived just in time. They’re evolving. An unrelenting and crushing sophomore effort from one of the leading bands of the new wave of metal.

DAVE STEWART

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