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Into the Great Nothing - 92%

GuntherTheUndying, August 25th, 2011

The one barrier separating Wolverine's "Still" and the long-awaited "Communication Lost" was a five-year stretch that included much waiting and patience, but finally Wolverine's slumber ended and they released what might be their seminal album. This statement should be taken with a grain of salt, however, as this reviewer has only sampled bits and pieces of Wolverine's discography, but at the same time, "Communication Lost" instills a presence of stronger songwriting and dazzling instrumentation that reaches just a whisker above their other material, at least to my ears. The soothing, chromatic vocals of Stefan Zell lead the spacey voyage of relaxing progressive metal through spheres of melodic, calming atmospheres often reaching ambient territory and the outer plains of progressive rock, yet Wolverine can only be placed in awe at their extravagant sampling of these sounds and the impending result, which frankly leaks excellence from its golden pores.

"Communication Lost" stands as an atypical branch of the progressive metal scheme at certain intervals; rather, the record focuses more so on verse-chorus structures and simplistic features, which is opposite of overtly-technical craftsmanship or altering frontiers. Wolverine plays the stage safely instead, using articulated sections of ethereal keyboards and rudimentary riffs that transfer between soft, ambient-like ideals and the soothing touch of atmospheric progressive metal played at an ultra-calm temperature to create the encompassing texture of "Communication Lost." This approach, although a suggestive turn-off for the occasional purist, leaves the exceptional voice of Stefan Zell to explore vast landscapes of fantastic narration -having the seductive somberness of Roy Khan and tones generally leaning on the lower end of the vocal spectrum - through Wolverine's rock-inspired basin. The songs generally include prominent keyboards as well, and the use of violins or acoustic guitars are fairly common too, so yes, there are many "lighter" anthems, but they are fundamentally stellar nonetheless.

The riffs and advanced guitar work are likewise fairly basic; not technically straining or mathematical in a mystic sense, yet the rhythms are precise and driving, working in an algorithmic function of catchy hooks and emotive solos that weave through Zell's voice and the group's remaining outputs on the instrumental end. Every song has its own center of excellence, but I'm particularly enamored by the trio of eight-minute epics (the title track, "Into the Great Nothing," "In Memory of Me") spread throughout the realms of "Communication Lost," and I can safely say that all three are catchy, emotional, divine, and chalcedonic exploitations of progressive metal at its finest. The upbeat "Pulse" is another gem worth mentioning, and the feathery numbers (especially "What Remains") are pulled off with careful accuracy and avoid the casual tediousness of the average ballad.

As you see, I have nothing remotely negative or critical to say about Wolverine's comprehensive ability and cohesiveness here. It's pretty tame stuff compared to the namable brands of progressive metal, but that's the brilliance of "Communication Lost." This light embrace is not only something that works well for Wolverine, but it's also a blueprint that they easily mastered and expanded with their impressive musicality and dynamic songwriting. The record runs for a mammoth seventy minutes as well, but Wolverine has the essential elements to at least keep the listener enthralled through easeful designs and smoldering epics that reach to the sky, and occasionally beyond, into the great nothing.

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