The hardcore scene has already impressed in 2014 with a ferocious flurry of rigorously intruding and thrilling furies, hardcore based or driven releases from the likes of Havenside, Ringworm, and Axecatcher to name just three leading the way. Stepping right in front of them or certainly alongside, are a pair of Throatruiner Records releases, one from Plebian Grandstand which you can read about elsewhere on the site and maybe the mightiest triumph of the lot Aegri Somnia from French band Direwolves. Their eleven track rage is a masterful persuasion of uncompromising riffs and rhythms fuelled by irresistible melodic tartness and inescapable hooks. Fusing metallic sinews and punk attitude to their sonic and vocal squalls, the debut album from the Lorient quintet is a standout treat for genre and year so far, an onslaught which if not on people’s best of lists will certainly be in their favourites of the year.
Direwolves formed in 2011 and were soon making a mark locally and within the French underground scene, their potent two track demo release Demo MMXI in their first year left in the shade by their first EP, the eagerly received and praised Me From Myself, to Banish the following year. Aegri Somnia is their next major step as a band and you suspect one into a wider intensive spotlight. The release takes over where the previous EP left off in many ways, taking its base as a launch pad for a more intensive and inventive venture whilst drawing greater blackened essences and harsher aspects of punk and crust into the hardcore brew. On its first scarring Aegri Somnia easily impresses and captures the imagination but as all great releases the more you share and open up the senses to its causticity the stronger and explosively persuasive it becomes.
Introspection starts things off, it a brief sonically hatched instrumental which casts an acidic landscape around the ears whilst giving far more than a hint of what is to come as rhythms manhandle the senses with fearsome creative power and the bass parades a carnivorous sound and intent. It is a striking and incendiary start, easily enslaving attention and anticipation as the guitars wash the air with melodic venom before it all explodes into the raging fire of Insights. Riffs and rhythms tear chunks from the psyche right away whilst the vocals abrase with every tortured syllable and angst driven word. It is an even briefer assault than its predecessor, one minute of hellacious contempt and sonic temptation with hooks to match and all very tasty.
The following storm of The Blindness That Keeps You Warm pushes the album’s entrance up another notch in contagious persuasion, flying at the ears with rhythms throwing muscular spite and riffs adding their animosity to the intense pressure whilst infectious hooks and grooves pierce and wind their way respectively into the tempest. It is a merciless yet seductive scourge of enterprise which evolves into Holy Treason with just as much invention and irrepressible fire driving forth the exhilarating turmoil. As with all songs though it is not just about passion and ferocity with the band laying out addictive designs and melodic toxins which help make the already eager taste for the encounter greedy and satisfaction unreservedly intense.
The bass snarl finds an even greater predation to its voice in the next up Echoed In Vain whilst the drums develop a controlled frenzy which only impresses further. Though the track maybe does not make the strongest initial scoring on ears and thoughts with melody brewed acid in its body and far reaching hooks, it is a forcibly engaging violation matched and exceeded by the excellent Sighs And Whisper. As pleasingly expected by this point in the album, guitars sculpt a web of sonic scorching and imaginative melodic entanglement around a merciless and brutally rapacious rhythmic drive. Equally though there is adventure unique to each track and here the song bullies its way into a moment of post hardcore, almost progressive insight, to keep predictability and assumptions at bay and wrong footed.
Aegri Somnia continues to impress as the adrenaline soaked and at times impossibly magnetic The Liar’s Choice and the voracious Face The Facts unleash their primal and instinctive belligerence vocally and unrelenting defiance musically on ears and beyond, whilst Light It Up from an outstanding rhythmic coaxing within a sonic wail intensively paints a finger pointing indictment at society. All three add a different aspect to the album, individual outrages and creative provocations to ignite thoughts and emotions.
The final pair of tracks, Keep It Clear and Endless Tragedies, are arguably the band’s most expansive and intrusive engagements, both thick in weight and passion relinquishing the use of skilfully crafted hooks and grooves for exhaustive almost doom clad atmospheres and melodically spawned explorations. They make for a formidable conclusion for a thoroughly impressive and exciting beast of a release. There is very little to offer as a temper to the fully hatched appreciation and ardour for the intimidation offered, though of course if hardcore is not an instinctive flavour that appeals from the off the songs could occasionally blend into each other through only a surface attention such their swift strikes and mutually intensive passion. The bottom-line though is that Aegri Somnia is a tremendous proposition and Direwolves a band set for major things.
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