Okay, I seriously have been listening to this album nonstop in my car, it hasn’t even occurred to me to put in another album, I just let this one start over…again and again. Gnarwolves’ self-titled album is one of my favorite albums that I have had the pleasure of reviewing. It is loud, fast, aggressive punk rock, with a melody and a soul.
As I was looking up some background info on these guys, I of course landed at their website and the photo in the header of their landing page perfectly encompassed everything that I was feeling when I listened to in their music. It is a sweaty pit of kids piled on one another screaming along and smiling. And isn’t that the sign of any great punk band, getting the crowed that riled up and having a damned great time?
When you listen superficially and look at the band’s social media sites and even their album art work, they seem like a bunch of skateboarding, beer drinking, fun loving punk rock kids, and they are, but there is also this great depth to every song on the record. There are not gimmicks, there is no agenda, just thrashy music, a dash of screaming, a bit of melody, and some depth to their lyrics. They touch on the injustices of society, class, family, loss, separation, distance, and relationships, and the great numbing effects of drinking (and the thought that maybe we shouldn’t do that forever).
It is a fine line to walk between relaxed, causal, having a great time drinking and skating while also saying something real and commenting on society. The bands who are able to do that have always been my favorites. Most bands seem to fall into one camp or the other – drunk jokers or serious buzzkills. I think the merging of these two personas is what attracts me most to this album, it not only shows that we are all multi-faceted, but they do it with such ease that you don’t doubt their honesty.
The album kicks off with Prove and it sets the stage for the album, there are equal parts thrash and melody, and even this slightly sinister echo-y vocal trade off section. It just totally gets you riled up. Boneyard is another killer track with such identifiable lyrics that we feel like they could have been writing about us, “we make a toast to being lonely / because it’s better than drinking alone.”
In an album full of stellar tracks, I think that Bottle to Bottle and Smoking Kills are my two favorites. Bottle to Bottle starts with simple guitar strumming and gritty vocals that are slightly edgy and angry, “If we start drinking heavily / the walls might stop shrinking” then the music and vocals explode. It is a passionate flurry with a beat the carries you along and until you are screaming and thrashing too. “Because I got so caught up in a moment / I barely even noticed I changed”. Smoking Kills just launches in hard, the music is fast and only gets faster, until the breakdown(ish) section and the vocals only get angrier throughout the track. It progresses to these layered vocals, melody over growling vocals create the most beautiful chaos I have ever heard.
Hate Me has a sinister section at the end, that leaves you with a slightly creepy feeling and Ebb and Flow are the tracks that seem just slightly, vulnerable. I seriously could take about every track on here, each one has a different super cool element that sets it apart from the rest of the album, but I won’t. Go buy this fucking album. Now. You won’t be disappointed. Unless you like shitty music. Then you probably wouldn’t be so into this.