Powerfully moving, believer or not
Using descriptors and themes that are recurrent to the metal genre such as fire and pain, Christian post-core/metal band Wolves At The Gate continues bridging the gap between functional biblical allegory and metal music on their latest album Eulogies. With exceptional production value and fine musical craftsmanship, their 5th studio album Eulogies maintains their positive trajectory of musical development and growth, this time with an even more emotional touch. Wolves At The Gate make no attempt to hide their beliefs, but they do it in a constructive way that invites questioning and introspection. Eulogies is for any metal fan, believer or not.
A standout track on the album that is less metal and more of an alt-rock radio jam is “Lights & Fire.” The beginning opens with a singsong cadence of rising and falling “Ohs” backed by intense guitar and fearless drums. A familiar major fifth interval initiates the call to this stadium anthem. When combined with a response mimicked by the guitar, it solidifies a memorable chant that turns into quite the inspiring earworm as it bounced between the lyrics and guitar harmonies throughout the song. “Lights & Fire” tells the uplifting testimony of how the trials and tribulations of life ultimately leads one to something better than they could have expected. The lyrics of the chorus detail the “downward spiral,” closing out with “All the thorns would tenderly lead, somewhere so much better for me.” It’s a song that leaves one with a warm, fuzzy feeling.
Just like how the bible is set up where Christ’s crucifixion is in the middle of the story but is a main reason for the book being written, the title track “Eulogies” is one of the hardest tracks on the album and can be found 5 songs in. The lyrics are a powerful sermon that obtusely, yet artfully describes the lasting impact of Christ’s death and resurrection. With compelling lyrical excerpts such as, “A bloody tree and empty tomb, sends roots below for life to bloom,” “Eulogies” would make a formidable credits song for any new age Passion Play this Easter season.
While some tracks such as the resident ballad attempt “No Tomorrow” are skippable, subtle variations from track to track keep musical interest throughout the album. For example, “Weight of Glory” is a short but impactful filler where growling vocals proceed a deep, grungy guitar chug making it impossible not to join in on their chanting call to action: “Rise, rise, rise above.” “Deadweight” displays the amazing timbre of vocalist Steve Cobucci. While he presents a slightly nasally post-punk tone on most of the tracks on Eulogies, his vocal agility reaches deep into his rock and roll back pocket, pulling out an impressive refresh of Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger. “Embracing Accusations” surprises the listener with unexpected chord progressions and unconventional musical phrasing.
The album closes out with the track “Silent Anthem,” where the energy brought by the song is in strict juxtaposition to the title. The lyrics deftly utilize musical terminology in their descriptions throughout the track such as “symphonic pain,” “melodic cancer” and “discordant anthems” while describing how their belief can never be silenced and will always find a way to get out. Around the midpoint of the song, it turns into an oddly chilling breakdown that feels like Hillsong Worship, incorporating airy vocals with a soft, atmospheric nursery rhyme melodic backing that slowly drips in an infusion of guttural screams, intense rolling drums and soaring ambient elements that climb higher and higher within each phrase. The last line of the album recaps the overall message of Eulogies, “Worthy is the lamb that was slain.” As that line is repeated several times over, even a non-believer would be hard-pressed not to leave in tears in the wake of such a dynamic outro.
While Wolves At The Gate makes an attempt to get personal on Eulogies, they stuck with broad, overarching themes in a seeming attempt to not fully alienate listeners. While not specific in the lyrical descriptions of their burdens, the results were still rousing. Similar to how young adult novels purposefully create a generic main character so their readers can superimpose themselves in the storyline, it’s easy to get lost in this album and apply the concepts and themes in Eulogies to your life and life choices. Eulogies wants us to know that whatever we’re going through will be made greater as “The Author and Finisher has claimed victory.”