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Album Review: Black Soul Choir by Wolves Like Us Doesn’t Fulfill its Promise

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If you’re going to throw out big names, be prepared to justify yourselves, my connected friend.

Wolves Like Us are a Norwegian group of not-quite-metallers descended from the likes of Amulet, Infidels Forever, JR Ewing and Silver… Scandinavian bands I know absolutely nothing about (except JR Ewing, which had its moments). So fine there.

But. Maybe it was an overeager publicist, a reaching bio writer (so guilty of this) or a band a little too high on themselves. But when you, Wolves Like Us, throw out descriptors like “Quicksand” or “Swervedriver” and even “Afghan Whigs” when discussing your record, you set major expectations. Like that you’ve found a brand new way to rock that’s somehow old and yet wonderfully unexpected.

Black Soul Choir doesn’t fulfill that promise. The band’s second album is all 90s-era active/alt-rock, all grungy and moody vocals that lack, well, dynamics. To take you back, it’s a little reminiscent of COC’s boring radio-friendly days (remember “Clean My Wounds”? No? Just as well) with a little Kerbdog thrown in (if 90s Irish alt-metal was your thing, all three of you nod your heads).

It tries. “When Will We Ever Sleep” and the increasingly chanted vocals of “Dig With Your Hands” pretend to build up, then peter out into a series of “meh” solos and clean vocal hooks (“We Were Blood” is a nice exception…real energy there). There’s no explosion. And “Lovescared” is essentially Jar of Flies-era Alice in Chains, minus the underlying heroin darkness.

Wolves Like Us: this one hurt. Not because they’re bad. Because they made us expect so much more.

Black Soul Choir by Wolves Like Us comes out February 24 in the UK and EU, February 28 in Germany, and March 4 on Prosthetic. You can listen tot he track “I Don’t Need to be Forgiven” here and pre-order the album here.

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