Wolves and Machines - Ailments
Record Label: Capeside Records
Release Date: September 28, 2010
Let me start out by saying that I really really love this record. Wolves and Machines have made something special here. From the beautiful subdued opening, to the more complex progressive songs, and the ending that goes back to the subdued opening, with the same amount of power. There are lots of acoustic elements, harmonies, strange song structures, well-used gang vocals, and impressive guitar work. Really what they have done is create a progressive record founded on melody, and they have done it very well. Ailments is a powerful rock record, a heavy indie record, a very melodic progressive record, and something that I have not heard anything like before.
From the opening song, Wolves and Machines sound like a very powerful group. I would define their sound as a combination of highs and lows, often using slowed down or acoustic elements in parts of a song, making the louder guitar driven parts sound all the more louder. The whole band really works together well, almost effortlessly. The drums are very varied throughout the album, always working toward different patterns and rhythms, never content to stay on a simple rhythm for long. The bassist is outstanding as well, able to fade to the back and add to the powerful sound, as well as come to the forefront during many songs, such as the "Ailments". The guitars are the focus of many songs, and definitely have a lot varied parts and styles. The guitar work here is stellar, knowing when to add technical riffs and leads, fast-paced strumming, almost jazzy moments, as well as the slower parts when the vocalist really shines, and he does really shine.
From passionate strained vocals, quieter sounding vocals, and some very skillful wailing, he carries this record through all of its highs and lows. The melodies here are catchy, without relying on choruses, and many of the songs have powerful hooks, such as the repetition of "We've lost our grace with words, Maybe the distance can medicate," in "Discords", or the use "If you're scared" in "Tides". The lyrics here are often very personal, talking about divorce, coming home, not having home, and regret. There is also a theme of nautical references and a voice calling to the speaker through the record, giving it the feel of a someone who was compelled by a voice to leave their life and go out to sea. Or something like that, maybe I'm looking to far into it. But with lines like "Forgive me all my trespasses, because I never loved you, I lied when I told you. You weren't the way I thought you'd be," "My decomposing has composed a haunting melody in prose. It keeps telling me I'm home," and " If I can't confide in you, there's no truth to be had. You helped me sleep at night, now I'm awake," Wolves and Machines are able to make their powerful music seem even more powerful.
Ailments is very good record. Every aspect is well crafted. The music is strong, the melodies are beautiful. This record is like traveling at sea in some ways. There are moments of calmness, of self-reflection, anger, fear, regret. There are chaotic times, when the power of the ocean seems to throw itself at you all at once, only to die down minutes later. There are moments of beauty and happiness, feeling a freedom one has never felt before. There is smooth sailing, rough patches, feelings of remorse and feelings of joy. Wolves and Machines have made a very strong record on all accounts, and the young band from Michigan can only improve from this phenomenal debut.