Back To School, the covers-only EP by the superbly talented post-hardcore quartet Wolves At The Gate, does a fine job of doing just what its namesake suggests; it did it for me, at least. I have very fond memories of listening to Thrice and other post-hardcore bands in high school; in fact, they were somewhat of a gateway band for me into heavier and more aggressive music. If you share in these sentiments, Back To School will serve as a nostalgic walk down memory lane.
The idea behind this EP was to highlight and perhaps even educate fans about the bands who have had the most impact on Wolves At The Gates as a band, hence its title. They cover songs from Thrice, Thursday, Blindside and The Receiving End of Sirens, and after hearing each of these covers and then going to back to listen to their masterpiece from last year, Captors, it's even more obvious how much influence Wolves At The Gate have drawn from these bands, and how much impact they've had on the music they write.
As far as the covers go, they're spot on. Wolves At The Gates are amazingly talented musicians, and they cover each of these songs perfectly. Frontman Steve Cobucci in particular shines here, simply because he sings the parts of four very different vocalists and stays true to their original performances, yet still keeps his own style and identity as a vocalist intact. The first three covers of "Deadbolt" by Thrice, "Understanding in a Car Crash" by Thursday and "Sleepwalking" by Blindside are perfect note-for-note covers of the original. The final song, "Planning a Prison Break" by The Receiving End of Sirens sees the band opting for a softer, unplugged version of the song that, dare I say, is even better than the original. It's these stylistic changes that really highlight Wolves At The Gate's creativity and musical adeptness as a band.
The only issue with Back To School is that it consists solely of covers. Of course, they are fantastic covers of songs that will no doubt bring many memories rushing back to listeners, but it would have been great to hear new songs from Wolves At The Gate. Even so, count this EP as another quality release from one of Christian heavy music's best bands.
- Review date: 10/18/13, written by Aaron Lambert of Jesusfreakhideout.com