Wolverine is obviously not a band that’s very concerned with its metal image. Their album covers are unusually sober, and most of the music on their latest album “Communication Lost” is dominated by acoustic guitars and pianos, instead of heavy riffing. Hell, they even added a beat on one of the songs, appropriately called “Pulse”. Easy to say this isn’t for the restless, but the patient. Even more so than on the predecessor “Still”, the Swedish progressive metal outfit isn’t in a hurry to make very distinct impressions on the first go, and rather welcomes you to let everything soak in over multiple listens.
Not that they didn’t warn you. After a long intro, mainly dreamy keyboards and oblique narration, comes “Into The Great Nothing”, a moody mammoth of a track, as unsettling as it is inviting. Hovering over a haunting atmosphere are Stefan Zäll’s magnificent vocals, and with only sporadic outbursts of distorted guitars this feels abnormally serene and quiet. It’s a motif that runs throughout the album, and when you’re past the ominous last refrain of “Poison Ivy” and the mantra-like end of “Your Favourite War”, Wolverine’s intentions become clear. Because the larger part of every song is peaceful and soft, the band creates a terrific contrast when the slow and smoldering riffs come in and gentle rain becomes a thundering torrent of melancholic majesty.
Because of this method the album has a remarkable feel of consistency, as if each song is inseparable from the others. And all that without ever becoming stale or overly sentimental. Whether it’s the steady heartbeat of “Pulse”, the fragile balladry of “What Remains” or the impressive grandiosity of “In Memory Of Me” and the title track; this record never trips up or lets down. And for fans of strong melodic hooks, this album has no lack thereof. Several to all of the choruses latch on to your brain effortlessly, and make revisiting this album irresistible. With “Communication Lost” Wolverine prove themselves to be a daring and innovative frontrunner of a genre that they refuse to be confined in. If that isn’t progressive I don’t know what is. And boy am I happy I got through this without even a single joke about Hugh Jackman… Damn! Just go and get this, please.
Arno Callens' rating: 4.5 out of 5