ALBUM REVIEW: Alpha Wolf – A Quiet Place to Die
After months of teasing, spectacular single releases and a ton of reassuring Covid content, Alpha Wolf have finally dropped their new album, ‘A Quiet Place to Die’. True to form, the Australian metalcore outfit have created something truly powerful, raw and fierce. The release of their second studio album has not only seen them create memorable tunes and tracks we know will ignite their next live shows, but has seen them solidify their presence as powerhouses within their field, with talent that will not be fading anytime soon. ‘A Quiet Place to Die’ is not merely one of Alpha Wolf’s finest pieces of work, but is arguably one of the finest releases we have seen throughout what has otherwise been a dreary 2020.
Beginning with the title track ‘A Quiet Place to Die’, the band welcomes us to the album in a haunting and menacing way. Fittingly, this track paves the way for the events, the stories, to follow, and is ultimately a path shrouded by the forces that encompass the album; feelings of negativity, sorry, loss and animosity. Powerfully, ‘A Quiet Place to Die’ summates the album through its brief presence, and is the birthplace of the foundations that make this album all the stronger. As both a title track and introductory track, ‘A Quiet Place to Die’ delivers its purpose with skill and sincerity.
‘Creep’, one of the singles previously released, follows. Both vocally and lyrically, this song is prominent and hard-hitting, exuding the raw anger and animosity alluded to within the title track. Evidently, ‘Creep’ is an anthem for our current times of upheaval, best found in the lyrics, “Suppression sewn shut…Do I make you uncomfortable”. Through the band’s most powerful tool, their music, Alpha Wolf have sparked a discussion revolving around injustice, suppression and the inability to change due to the solace some find in their own worlds of comfort. Truly, the band alludes to topics which spark debate often uncovering feelings of uneasiness, whether these be on a small or large scale. Inarguably representative of these times, ‘Creep’ serves as a reminder to speak over the ‘quiet places’, because it is this noise that creates change, and creeping around in the silence will lead us nowhere. This multifaceted track speaks volumes, not only through its aggression and composition, but its loud and clear statement.
Following is ‘Golden Fate: Isolate’, the third installment to the ‘Golden Fate’ trilogy that commenced in Alpha Wolf’s ‘Mono’ album. Through the vocals of Lochie and the subsequent lyrics, the band present a tragic yet thought-provoking story regarding the repercussions of death and loss. ‘Isolate’ encompasses the inability we hold in processing, expressing and understanding feelings, thoughts, and actions in times of grief. The song continuously presents a shifted perspective, moulding the view to the internal thoughts of the persona; “so where was my goodbye? … you left me behind”. This track presents a shifted perspective of what is usually delved into, and with the raw aggression and pleading in the composition of this song, creates a feeling so uniquely cataclysmic, you are able to touch the surface of the pain and grief discussed. Truly, the band engulfs every word of ‘Isolate’ with emotion, passion and power; factors which drip upon you with every listen.
Since its release, my subsequent four-times-a-day listening, and even surrounded by the company of the album it lurks within, track four, ‘Akudama’ continues to stand out as one of my favourite Alpha Wolf tracks. From the chorus to its unmissable breakdown, this track holds a relentless energy, unmatched by any other. Encompassed by pure energy and chaos, this track finds a way to permeate throughout every fibre of your being, and when the time comes, will be something to behold when live shows roll back around. ‘Akudama’ in all its fierceness leaves a mark not to be forgotten, much like the namesake suggests!
Track five is ‘Acid Romance’. With some big shoes to fill, ‘Acid Romance’ opens the gates from the first seconds with one of the most forceful openings from this album. Continued within the rest of the track, ‘Acid Romance’ prevails as a crushing and dangerous force, very much embodying the nature of its lyrics. Lyrically, the track is poetic and unveils the complexities of human emotion; “Lovers torn asunder/Sleeping beneath a murder of crows/Black as pitch/The rapture since left with you”. Although conveying enough on their own, when intertwined with the brutal force of the instrumentals, the lyrics of ‘Acid Romance’ create something so incredibly unmissable, it begins to replicate the same struggles that arise with such feelings- fragility, brokenness, anguish and frustration. Once again, Alpha Wolf have proven that music goes beyond what is presented, but extends to share the feelings of the story.
‘Rot in Pieces’ follows. Perhaps one of the most emotionally-charged songs, this track is fuelled by anger and hatred, all of which make it a powerful piece. Situated around the centre of the album, Alpha Wolf guarantees that the hype does not fizzle out, and instead culminates some of their largest hostilities to the centre of this body of work. Lyrically, vocally and instrumentally, this track gives everything it can to plead its story, making its impact second to none. ‘Rot in Pieces’ truly makes a statement, and does not merely plead for prominence within the album, but demands it.
One of their most recent and well received singles, ‘bleed 4 you’ is track seven. Featuring Lizi from The Beautiful Monument, this song is beautifully fragile yet heavy in its own magnificent way. Although not adhering to the features found on the rest of the album, ‘bleed 4 you’ is not out of place, but intertwines itself through its enduring emotional impact and precise composition. Hauntingly, this song highlights how we as individuals must endeavour through the plans created for us, the experiences and timing of events we are forced to meet. Fuelled by pleading and longing, the repeated lines of “Im’ going numb, I’ll bleed for you” become excruciating. Certainly emotionally-charged, this song presents something unfamiliar yet fitting. Truly, ‘bleed 4 you’ places an emphasis on Alpha Wolf’s ability to strip back tracks to not only delve into emotion, but remain true to themselves- a true testament to their duality.
‘Ultra-Violet Violence’ is track eight. Much like its counterparts, this track intertwines instrumentals that would be heavenly within a live setting, with lyrics that are emotionally-driven and hold immense importance. This track in particular is perhaps one of the best examples of this seamless intertwinement, showing that no factor outweighs the others, but can simultaneously exist in a song to make a raw and powerful tune that can still stir the room. ‘Ultra-Violent Violence’ is violent and raw, fitting for this emotion-driven album!
‘The Mind Bends to a Will of Its Own’ follows. Truly, the lyrics of this track are something to behold. Through the entirety of this album, I have been in awe of both the complexity and originality of the content of the lyrics, all of which eagerly stray from clichés, and are quick to rely on self expression rather than pleasing the masses. Such a notion does not go astray within this track, and perhaps poses the best example of it. It is elements of their composition, such as the lyrics, that make Alpha Wolf projects not only different, but exemplars within their field. With overflowing emotion, perspective-driven content, trademark instrumentals and unique lyrics, ‘The Mind Bends to a Will of Its Own’ is another prime example for Alpha Wolf’s rising prominence in the scene.
Following is ‘Restricted (R18+), certainly advertised as an adrenaline rush for a seventeen-year-old like myself. One of the heaviest tracks from the album, ‘Restricted’ is more than an angry track, but one of passion and justice, exemplified by the lyrics “Don’t you ever think I would forget, Don’t you ever think I would forgive”. Truly, this track seeks to find solace in a world stained by impurities and the presences of evil, once again sending messages through the most powerful tool- music. ‘Restricted (R18+)’ is a hard-hitting track proving that the tank is nowhere near empty as we begin to reach the end of the album.
Signifying the conclusion of ‘A Quiet Place to Die’ is ‘Don’t Ask…’. Yet another interesting turn for the band, this track presents a far more solemn undertone than its counterparts. Subsequently, it becomes one of the most moving tracks on the album. Surrounding the notions of prevailing over hopelessness, ‘Don’t Ask…’ not only becomes a significant conclusion to the many feelings that were established in the introductory track, but provides a greater moral for listeners. There is an ability to acknowledge and overcome, to deal with demons yet face the world. Through this powerful conclusory track, Alpha Wolf not only quells their own pain, but extends an invitation for others to do the same- to remind everyone, “that one day we will be okay”, a beautiful sentiment to conclude with.
Through their second album, ‘A Quiet Place to Die’, Alpha Wolf have reinforced themselves as a relentless talent to be reckoned with within the scene. Whether it is their beautiful lyrics, versatile range and experimentation, or their raw display of emotion, Alpha Wolf have presented a multi-dimensional body of work that truly exhibits who they are as a band. As a fellow Australian, this makes me extremely excited, but as a music-lover, it fills me with immense joy knowing that the future of such music lies within such capable hands. ‘A Quiet Place to Die’ is a must-listen album; one that is sure to surprise, thrill and engage with you.