Album Review: Wolves at Bay – When I’m Dead EP

Connecticut quartet Wolves At Bay are just what the post-hardcore scene needs right now – a revival of the nostalgic, emotion-driven atmosphere of the 90s and the early millennium that inexplicably faded in recent years.

With the release of EP ‘The Postvention’ earlier this year raising funds for the Prevent Suicide CT charity, this band have proved their devotion to a cause close to their hearts and, ultimately, their worth as an up-and-coming band. Slipping an additional 3 EP’s under their belts in as many years, there’s no stopping this wagon – and long may it roll.

It’s no surprise upon hearing ’When I’m Dead’ that Wolves At Bay consider Thursday to be one of their main influences – those unmistakable heartfelt cries usually attributed to Geoff Rickly echo throughout this time capsule of an EP, transporting you straight back to the glory days of post-hardcore and that feeling of locking yourself in your room with just yourself and your pent-up emotions.

When I’m Dead by Wolves At Bay

‘Tried To Fix’ opens the EP with William Hayes’ powerful, driven, and at times guttural vocals setting the scene of despair and the challenge of finding energy to fight. The effective manipulation of Hayes’ deep range perfectly accompanies the surreal and lingering guitar work distinctly reminiscent of the band’s post-hardcore peers of the 90s, showcasing jaw-dropping string picking the emo scene hasn’t seen for a long time. This cracker of an opener translates as if your heart was running out of life to give, but this is the sound of its final push for vitality – it’s evident from the onset that Wolves At Bay convey deep existential conflicts with consummate ease.

‘Nothing Will Work’ takes the tone down a notch or five further, opening with the sleepy and brooding tones we’ve come to expect from the likes of Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins. The band’s remorseful theme breaks its pattern for the main lyric “nothing will work until you let go”, words to live by at any rate. The organised screams of the guitars accompanied by the erratic lyrics, captivating the caveats of depression and anxiety, suggest this band wouldn’t sound out of place in the emo scene of the 1990s.

Last but by no means least, ‘Sincerely, Your Ex-Lover’ heralds yet another emotional transition with a refreshing yet misleading brief acoustic opening, before bursting into instrumentals reminiscent of ‘Bullets’ era My Chemical Romance, and again, Nirvana’s solemn atmosphere of dying hope. The sound of heartbreak becomes all too familiar and realistic through vocals that hurl fierce lifelike emotion straight at you with every intonation, crying for help and putting words to the bottomless distress and turmoil we’ve all endured at some point in life.

Don’t mistake this band for a pure 90s tribute – they’re as innovative as they are inspired. For fans of ambiguous, thought-provoking lyrics, Wolves At Bay intentionally leave each song open to interpretation – each message can be taken both positively and negatively. A truly unique and interactive aural experience, this record changes mood depending on what you want to hear – that’s an idea worth patenting.


‘When I’m Dead EP’ by Wolves At Bay is out now on Animal Style.

Wolves At Bay links: Facebook|Twitter|Bandcamp

Words by Ali Cooper (@AliZombie_)


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