At the end of our review of the deeply pleasing The More Things Change, The More We Stay The Same EP from Welsh post hardcore band When We Were Wolves, we added that this was “still a band in the making”. Now the Bridgend quintet unleash its successor in the stunning shape of Heartless to show that they are a creative tempest which has arrived at its first pinnacle whilst still offering the potential of even greater things to come. The five track fury of invention and intensity is a startling encounter exploring a broader and more mature landscape than its predecessor yet still passionately driven by the band’s now distinctive and imaginative post hardcore intent.
Formed in 2011, When We Were Wolves has built a rich reputation for their live presence, which has seen them play alongside the likes of Bury Tomorrow, The Blackout, Devil Sold His Soul, Malefice, Born Of Osiris, Exit Ten, Betraying The Martyrs, Martyr Defiled, and Carcer City. Add that to the success of The More Things Change, The More We Stay The Same and it is fair to say that anticipation for its successor was ripe and full, a hunger swiftly sufficed as Heartless rampages through the ears.
Opening track Dying On The Inside straight away lays a feisty glaze of riffs over ears, their lure fusing a punk and metal attraction before the rampaging beats of drummer Josh Baker uncage their full weight upon the sonic turbulence. The bass of Matt Shaw prowls the gripping brawl of sound with relish whilst vocalist Mitch Bock roars with emotion and animosity. Riffs and grooves spill equal animosity through the craft and invention of guitarists Steve French and Rhod Evans too, their intensive proposal alone creating a riveting baiting of thoughts and emotions within the song. It is a stunning start to the EP, the track twisting and embracing the senses with enthralling imagination whilst further inescapable temptation is expelled through the outstanding and impressive vocal delivery of Bock. Like a collision between While She Sleeps and Slipknot with a twist of Cancer Bats, the song is an irresistible contagion.
Coating ears in an initial melodic yet fiery embrace, the next up The Devil You Know soon twists into a ferocious beast of vocal hostility and sonic antagonism. It is a demanding and compelling start but taken to another level as Bock unveils more of his superb clean and melody rich vocals which had already enhanced its predecessor. Equipped and skilled to merge both extremes, he proves himself on Heartless to be one of the more exciting frontmen around. An essence of Dead Til Friday prompts thoughts towards the song but again a mere whisper to a sound undeniably belonging to When We Were Wolves. Predatory and seductive, it is a riveting adventure matched immediately by the voracious Blind. A sonic haze starts it off before grooves come out of the woodwork with insidious intent as pounding rhythms bring their equally enslaving thunderous textures. Vocals also explode with wide variety and unbridled passion across the destructive maelstrom smothering the senses. It is an exceptional savagery with a lingering spite ensuring it is one of the pinnacles of the release.
The following Confession takes its spark from the previous track, staggered riffs and venomous grooves an intensive and welcome intrusion as rhythms cast their heavyweight provocation. There is no respite from the vocals either initially, the fighting tones of Bock showing no mercy until his seamless slip into the equally impacting clean and velvet delivery he possesses. The encounter is a masterfully invigorating tempest which like most of the songs, perfectly sculpts its relatively brief length for the most dramatic impact before making way for the closing title track. Lighter in its presence in comparison to the last couple of tracks, Heartless is a radiantly emotive song, a melodically fired croon of sonic enterprise and vocal intensity which steals attention and ardour with Bock again exceptional though well-matched by the skilled sonic and rugged rhythmic charm of the rest of the band.
The Heartless EP is a major triumph for When We Were Wolves and the British post hardcore scene. The Welsh band has not only found its own voice but set out a new vat of promise and invention to inspire even greater anticipation for their next offerings.
The Heartless EP is available digitally through all stores on Monday 22nd September.
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from