To Speak of Wolves | Find Your Worth, Come Home
by Mark Allen
Second album from this Christian metalcore act finds a new singer handling the microphone and also finds the band still refining their sound. To Speak of Wolves seem a little unsure whether they want to be an oldschool metalcore band, all fury and heaviness and rage and chaos, or a commercially-accepted metalcore band with melodic lines and clean vocals. With their complex arrangements, furious tempos, and brutal drum work, the band ultimately proves to be a solid force in the metalcore market, but a force still not quite locked onto a cohesive identity.
That said, the balance is definitely tipped toward the non-commercial end of the spectrum on Find Your Worth, Come Home. Melody rears its head every now and then, but it is more the exception than the norm. Much like a hardcore porn star, the band likes it fast and rough and full of screams from start to finish. The engineering plays to this approach, emphasizing the down-tuned aggression and musical ferocity to create the kind of sonic metal hell that will send Justin Bieber fans scurrying for cover with their hands clutched over their ears and make the diehard metalcore masses slam their skulls together in violent approval.
New vocalist Gage Speas is more screamer than growler and the shrill edge to his voice will not be to all tastes; at times, it seems like you can actually hear the vessels in his throat rupturing and spritzing blood all over his esophagus. Comparisons to Cory Brandan (Norma Jean) and Spencer Chamberlain (Underoath) are not out of line. Have your lyric sheet handy when listening to this; otherwise, you’ll probably be hard-pressed to understand what Speas is screaming about.
When clean vocals enter this musical maelstrom, they are used well. On “Vertigo,” for example, the screams dominate, but they are laced with clean singing to lend an atmospheric edge that is in sharp counterpoint to the raging riff that forms the song’s backbone. The clean vocals never cross over into crass commercial appeal—the metalcore integrity remains unsullied—but they do offer an appreciated melodic mitigation of the seething heaviness. The same can be said for “Dialysis Dreams,” a straight-forward metalcore juggernaut that punches up the power with some tough gang vocals and slickly-placed clean singing. To Speak of Wolves have ample devices in their toolbox and they possess the skill and wisdom to use them at the right time and in the proper place for maximum impact.
But what about listeners for who clean vocals and melody are anathema? Fear not, To Speak of Wolves serve up plenty of smash-mouth songs that are designed for no other purpose than to crush your cochlea and turn your brain-meat to gelatin. “Hivemind” hurtles by on a chaotic tsunami of noise, brutally establishing from the get-go that this will not be an album for those who like it soft and fluffy. Or you could crank up the viciousness of “Voidwalker,” which is filled to the brim with hot-blooded ferocity and a spine-snapping pace and pounding intensity.
Bottom line, metalcore fans, especially the purists who dislike the commercial aspects that have crept into the genre of late, will find this album to be well worth their while. This one is geared toward them, the diehards, the old blood, the lovers of screams and growls and untainted aggression. For those hearty souls, listening to this album might just feel like coming home.
William “Gage” Speas (vocals)
Phillip Chamberlain (drums)
Corey Doran (rhythm guitar, clean vocals)
Aaron Kisling (lead guitar)
Seth Webster (bass)
2. Stand Alone Complex
4. Broken Birds
5. A Simple Thought That Changed Everything
6. Nostalgia Seeds
7. Je Suis Fini
9. Dialysis Dreams
11. Rearview Memories
Label: Solid State Records
Hardrock Haven rating: 7/10