Ever Circling Wolves play gritty, underground doom metal with some sludge elements thrown in for good measure. If that sounds a bit too simplistic it actually is, as there’s a lot more on offer here than you might expect.
It’s interesting; despite the influence that sludge undoubtedly has on the band, they can’t help but have some melodic and even epic moments in these songs. The band have moved on from their earlier material; there’s a lot of common ground still, but the Ever Circling Wolves of 2017 know a lot more about subtlety, nuance, melody and grandeur than they did when their debut album was released in 2009.
This development and progression is a great thing to hear, especially as it’s happened without jettisoning the parts which made them catch my eye, (ear?), in the first place. They’re still heavy, dark and with a firm filthy, nasty side, but now they also bring an expanded vision and updated set of skills to the table too.
For an album that clocks in at over an hour, the songs are diverse and well-written enough to hold the listener’s attention with ease. Shades of old-school doom/death are apparent, especially in some of the depressive melodies, but Ever Circling Wolves are a band with many strings to their bow. Across the album’s breadth they mix in various moods, feelings, sub-styles and influences to great effect.
Part of this variety involves a freedom to experiment too. We’re not talking crazy, avant-garde forays into the unknown, of course, but there are enough good ideas and objects of sonic interest here to keep things fresh. Be that unexpected clean harmonies, folk sections, progressive rock, exploratory psychedelic workouts, nasty fast aggression, post-metal reflection, or some almost jazz-worthy parts. Whatever they throw in, it somehow manages to feel natural and in keeping with the context of the song and of the album as a whole, which is not always an easy thing for a band to do.
The early work of Ever Circling Wolves demonstrated a band with much promise, but not one that really lived up to the potential that they had. With the release of their second album, that all changes. This is a much more advanced release, showing a multi-faceted band capable of producing a rich, varied album with songs that all carry their own personality and direction with pride.
Of Woe or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Gloom shows a band that have taken huge developmental strides forward, and it’s an album that I’ll be gratefully exploring for some time to come I’m sure.
Very highly recommended.