When a band’s sophomore album drops, the fans can comfortably approach the music with a certain sense of expectation. By the third LP, the band’s sound is typically established, and the fans’ expectations follow suit. Yet, as Ohio’s Wolves at the Gate closes the door on their own third release, expectations can be thrown out the window. And that’s not a band thing; this band has proven sonic consistency is not necessary for continued success. Talent and songwriting allow for a flourishing evolution and are two areas in which Wolves at the Gate excel.
The album, Types and Shadows, is a sampler platter of the metalcore sub-genre on which their talent is solidly reinforced. The concept-driven collection testifies that they are not only competent but inventive. With slight variations on nearly every flavor of the hardcore, rock, and metal world, each song embodies a corresponding commentary on human failure tethered to a need for salvation. Because each track is a different story, there is a thankful lack of monotony in concept. Where there are momentous displays of instrumental prowess, such as on “Anathema” and “Lowly,” there are equally impressive displays of vocal prowess. Ranging from soothing melody to dark, dissonant screams, co-vocalists Steven Cobucci and Nick Detty can match wits with the instrumentation.
Even so, the true centerpiece of the album is the storytelling. Of all the personal accounts and perspectives they chose to write about, one touches in a very personal way. “Hindsight” is a reflection of Jesus’ ministry and crucifixion from the view of Peter who wrestles with the guilt of delivering his best friend and Savior to his enemies. It’s deeply introspective (and the most subdued instrumentally), which allows the raw vocal to bleed with regret. In a tragic way, the song is incredibly beautiful for the sober honesty it depicts.
In as many ways as it is unique, Types and Shadows is a modern example of faithful songwriting poured out with zealous intensity. It is not a homogenized metalcore album that reeks of repetitive sound from beginning to end. Instead, it comes across as 13 separate experiences, and, in listening to them, you may find it speaks to you in unexpected ways. and you may be surprised what their stories reveal to you.