I respect bands who try to break the mold in various ways. Sometimes that innovation comes in the format of their release, rather than in the music itself. Wolverine is doing something different this time around, and “A Darkened Sun” is proof of that. The band’s new offering released on October 31st.
Sweden’s Wolverine has been around since 1995, so they are veterans of the progressive community. So far as I can tell, the band still consists of Per Henriksson on keyboards, Thomas Jansson on bass, Marcus Losbjer on drums, Jonas Jonsson on guitars, and Stefan Zell on vocals. This was the lineup on the band’s 2016 album “Machina Viva”.
The band plays a classic progressive metal, though they tend to inject plenty of electronic elements and melancholy auras into their sound. They love ambient, pensive moments just as much as they love a hearty riff. I’ve always loved their sense of poetry and refinement, and that continues on this release.
“A Darkened Sun” is technically an EP, but it is an audio-visual experience first and foremost. The EP runs about 27 minutes in length and is set to a short film that helps convey the emotions in the music. Right now, as far as I know, the only way to hear and see this experience is through the band’s website or on YouTube.
The short film itself isn’t remarkably self-contained. It definitely needs the music. The images are melancholy and full of inner turmoil with plenty of metaphorical moments and a search for self. I love the closing seconds, specifically, where color and hope enter the picture.
The music is smooth and fitting for the occasion. The EP has four tracks, called chapters, and each of them is beautiful and introspective. The record begins with “Phoenix Slain”, a track with searing keys, electronic portions, and a great feeling that grabs the listener. “The Breach” comes next, and has a really nice center lick that will get your head bobbing. I love the chorus on this song, too, where Stefan sounds quite desperate and full of longing.
I believe the second half to be the stronger portion of the EP. It also happens to be softer than the first half. “Dead as the Moon” is an expressive tune with soulful, ethereal moments that I really like. The protagonist seems to be coming face to face with her own diseased mind here, and so it is quite potent. Finally, “Hibernator” ends the release with yummy synth that leads into feelings of light and healing. I really like how it climaxes and gives your mind a little hopeful boost at the end.
Though I don’t see this format becoming a mainstay for the band, Wolverine has offered up something really interesting here. The music interprets the film as much as the film interprets the music. You will see plenty of imagery that will give you pause to consider, but you will experience great music at the same time. This is definitely worth your time, and I do hope the band puts it up for sale someday soon.
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