Hatred is a funny thing. It can serve as a potent motivator—think of all the things you (and many others) have done out of pure hate. Not many things can stoke the flames of passion and creativity like a visceral disgust for something.
But hatred is also a plague. Loathing can serve as a yoke that weighs you down, deteriorating your physical, mental and emotional function. As excellent as it can be to build and create, it is even a more potent destroyer. This topic—and more—is thoroughly explored by French beatdown hardcore fiends Wolfpack in their 2018 offering, aptly titled Loathe. A grim, intense and dark display of aggression and introspective bitterness—infused with traditional metallic and hardcore elements—Loathe is a lurid and lacerating release that draws from a select few elements of heavy music to create something simultaneously barbaric and soothing, one second using low riffs and pissed vocals, while another moment melodic and atmospheric. A far cry from their piss-and-vinegar debut, Wolfpack have grown into a unique and unstoppable band with a curious and peerless sound.
Loathe explores a dichotomous and devastating division between mind-buckling, soul-crushing darkness and an odd, hazy, ethereal light. Built on a foundation of thick, heavy, punchy drumming with writhing, grisly bass, songs like “Cursed” and “Oblomov” exemplify this, with the former serving as a bitter, gut-punch to the listener, while other songs—like “Hover Above Me” are a bit more arid and spacey, seeing the drums lay off the figurative diesel and give the bass and guitars more room to expand and add light between segments of sinister brutality. This sort of oscillation defines the somewhat odd experience that is Loathe. One part metallic beatdown, one part ambient, early-era metalcore and one part bordering on post-rock-meets-grunge, Wolfpack draw from influences as broad as their global fanbase to create something truly unlike the efforts of many of their contemporaries. Don’t get it twisted—when they’re heavy, they are God damn heavy—and “Oblomov” is one of the best examples of this, especially coming hot off the heels of the catchy and crunchy introductory number. Then there are songs like “Pessimist” and “Doomed,” both living up to their name, as it were—just as songs like the closer, “Loathe” add peace and serenity to the album, closing it on a poetic and almost-unsettlingly calm note. Everything in between the aforementioned finds itself somewhere on the continuum between the band’s two extremes—and make no mistake, every second is a raunchy ride.
The vocal dynamism mirrors Wolfpack’s renewed musical diversity—as the band’s frontman continues with devastating, bitter and aggressive roars that sound beefier and thicker than before.
Mixed in between the lashings and lurid hyper-heavy moments Loathe has to offer, there are the unwieldly moments of melancholic melody (like those within “Hover Above Me”) that see almost-grungy, metallic clean vocals tossed into the roars, growls and yells that define Wolfpack’s standard fare. While this is a minute portion of Loathe, it is a source of much-needed diversity and fresh blood, keeping Wolfpack from falling into the overcrowded and under-interesting pit of bands that have tried and failed to rehash the late-2000s metalcore sound in recent years. True—songs like “Oblomov” are just ruthless, and others, especially “Doomed” are just as powerful. But moments like those in “Hover Above Me” are a stark contrast; a spark of blinding light that restores balance and an even, full-bodied experience to Wolfpack’s 2018 display of awe-inspiring aggression.
Wolfpack might not be a game-changing band by reputation of their (strong, but forgettable) debut. However, Loathe sees the band broadening their horizons and thinking outside of the box defined by slam riffs, breakdowns and mosh calls. Intelligent and introspective (along with intense, immolating and several other words starting with I), Loathe is a lurid, barn-burning, gut-buster of a release that uses an intriguing dialectic to keep the listener thoroughly immersed for its (somewhat brief) runtime. While it might not be the greatest example of heavy, metallic beatdown hardcore out there, it remains a damn good album, doing things that many of Wolfpack’s peers don’t.
For Fans Of: Desolated, Nasty, Bodysnatcher, Malevolence.
By: Connor Welsh