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Wolverine: Communication Lost

It would be decidedly fair and true to say that Communication Lost, Wolverine's first album for five years is not the most immediate listen in the history of mankind. Taking away "Downfall" which is another of those vastly annoying atmospheric intro pieces we find ourselves with ten songs which lazily (given their Swedishnesh) could be described as Bergman-esquely depressing – but in a good way.

At times, such as in "Into the Great Nothing", Wolverine conjure up some beautiful passages of music but equally at times the listener has to work really hard to get into what is going on despite the sheer bombast of the band's approach. An example of this would be "In Memory of Me" which genuinely feels every second of its near nine minute running time.

Communication Lost is one of those records which reveals itself slowly. It's very much music for grown-ups.

Track Listing:
1.) Downfall
2.) Into the Great Nothing
3.) Poison Ivy
4.) Your Favourite War
5.) Embrace
6.) Pulse
7.) What Remains
8.) In Memory of Me
9.) In the Quiet Dawn
10.) Communication Lost
11.) A Beginning

Added: August 14th 2011
Reviewer: Simon Bray
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 5933
Language: english

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Wolverine: Communication Lost
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-08-14 14:26:03
My Score:

Every now and then, a disc comes along and touches your inner self like no other, and this is one of those discs. After playing this for hundreds of times since its release only a few months ago, I am absolutely awestruck.

Contrary to what the casual progressive metal fan may expect, all members play to the strength of the songs. Marcus Losbjer's sparse drumming coupled with Per Henriksson's keyboard and piano work form the backdrop of the songs. Losbjer's playing is characterized by steady, tasteful drum beats while Henriksson utilizes both solo piano passages and more modern soundscapes to furthey diversify the pieces and lay down the foundation for vocalist Stefan Zell's career-defining vocals. Zell simply puts in his best performance of his career. From his soaring voice on the melodically enchanting "Into the Great Nothing" to his use of light/dark contrast on "Poison Ivy" with stunning vocal swells to his singing over a solo piano and cello passage on "What Remains," it is impossible not to get goose bumps while listening to him. The more I hear him sing the more I am convinced he is from another planet. This is so far the greatest vocal performance of 2011 alongside Cynthesis' Erik Rosvold for me.

At over 70 minutes, the songs blend into one another seamlessly, not too different from Fates Warning's masterwork A Pleasant Shade of Gray. Like Matheos, guitarist Mikael Zell plays only a few solos, of which the ones on "Your Favourite War" and "Embrace" are staggering. Very melodic, his phrasing is unique and his articulation grand. The solos feel almost like songs within songs, especially given the dark subject matter. His playing on "Embrace," one of Stefan Zell's most personal lyrics about his daughter who was born with a critical heart condition (thankfully she's well now), is charged with emotion and rife with texture. Another personal track is obviously "In Memory of Me," which was written about Zell's intention to leave the band he so loved and was proud being a part of. Again, the drum tone on this track is mindblowing. Other drummers can only dream of achieving such masterful tone and playing.

Communication Lost is bound to become Wolverine's defining work in the long run. It is one of the most rewarding albums I have ever heard. What may seem too mellow, too dark, or too depressing to some may prove ultimately rewarding upon repeat listens. Actually this is possibly their most diverse work with varied instrumentation, flawless production values, stunning musical performance, and on top of it all, excellent songwriting.

Jacob Hansen's mixing is audiophile quality. The dynamic range is incredible and works to great effect in emphasizing the lighter and heavier passages and weaving tapestries of sound. The tonal definition placed on Zell's vocals is out of this world and parachutes him to the league of vocal gods. A slightly flawed production could have killed the magic, but Hansen has pulled it off. I have yet to hear a better album in terms of production (and songwriting) this year.

If you still have doubts as to whether you should pick this disc up, I don't know what else to say.

Wolverine: Communication Lost
Posted by Jeff B, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-07-04 19:31:07
My Score:

Of all the genres in the heavy metal spectrum, progressive metal seems to be the most thoroughly criticized for being unoriginal and derivative; a bit ironic when one considers the meaning of the word "progressive". But it's hard to disagree - the amount of Dream Theater clones out there is staggering and, quite frankly, disappointing. That's why it's encouraging to see bands like Wolverine constantly pushing the envelope of what the genre can offer and creating fantastic art in the process. Communication Lost is their fourth full-length album, and also their first in the last five years. These Swedish masterminds have returned with a bang, though, and Communication Lost is one of the finest prog metal releases that 2011 (or any year) has to offer. I have no problem with calling this album an absolute masterpiece and a mandatory purchase for all prog metal fans looking for something different from your standard Dream Theater-clone release.

Wolverine plays a style of atmospheric progressive metal with influences from acts like Pain of Salvation, Porcupine Tree, Fates Warning, and Pink Floyd. Communication Lost certainly isn't the heaviest prog metal album you'll ever hear, and a good portion of it is pure atmospheric prog rock. Every track here is extremely melancholic and dark, from a musical and lyrical perspective. The lyrics, dealing with heavy topics like addiction and abuse, help add to the overall somber feeling present throughout the entire album. The music, as previously mentioned, is generally soft and not too technical. Acoustic guitars, mellow synth tones, powerful vocals, piano, and a strong rhythm section dominate much of Communication Lost. There are also a fair amount of cello sections - a bit surprising for a prog metal album, but is remarkably beautiful during the piano-led sections (particularly on "What Remains"). Every song here is absolutely beautiful, particularly "Embrace", "What Remains", and "In The Quiet Of Dawn". There are a few heavier (but still absolutely beautiful) tracks like "Communication Lost", "Your Favorite War", and "In Memory of Me". This album flows wonderfully and I'd actually consider every song to be a masterpiece. Communication Lost is one of the very few 70-minute albums without a second of filler; that really shows what fantastic songwriters Wolverine are.

Although Wolverine are not as technically-oriented as the majority of prog metal bands out there, they still certainly have some fantastic chops and (most importantly) are capable of injecting soulful emotion into every note on the album. The keyboard playing from Per Hendriksson especially stands out for me; his atmospheric synth playing and terrific piano mastery are an integral part of the music on Communication Lost. Stefan Zell's vocals also stand out to me, seeing that he has the power of Ray Alder and the beauty and diversity of Daniel Gildenlöw. It's hard to think of a better prog metal vocalist than that! The production is also spectacular on Communication Lost. It's clear, powerful, professional, and sets the perfect atmospheric feel to fit Wolverine's music.

I'm absolutely ecstatic about Communication Lost, and I sincerely hope that these feelings were shining throughout my review. This album is a tremendous statement from Wolverine; one that hopefully gets them the recognition that they deserve among the prog metal community. Seldom do I come across an album this beautiful, touching, and well-crafted. Wolverine really have outdone themselves this time, and created one of the most recommendable progressive metal albums ever released. 5 stars are well-deserved for this essential masterpiece. I can guarantee that Communication Lost will be in my top five albums of 2011 - it really is that good. Even with new Opeth and Dream Theater albums on the horizon, I have a feeling that Communication Lost may remain unsurpassed as the year's best prog metal album. Essential!

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