After taking a comfortable window of time since their stellar 2016 release, Types & Shadows, Wolves at the Gate is finally back on the frontlines of the industry. The post-hardcore Ohioan rockers have returned to present their fourth studio album, Eclipse, and it most certainly delivers. The 13-track album sees the band return to a harder sound than heard on their previous LP, although the album isn't without its gentler moments.
Exploring themes of doubt and presenting a relentless questioning of their standing with Christ, the band takes on an arduous, and at times, grim journey. This is decidedly the "road less travelled" within the Christian industry, with a few recent examples being the exception. While most of the songs are excellent in-and-of themselves, Eclipse isn't an easy project to dissect. The album is distinguished by possessing an excellent flow and is perhaps one of the most cohesive projects I've ever reviewed. Each track is truly represented by its placement and context, rendering an individual analysis deficient at best.
The band opens Eclipse with the excellent "The Cure," offering a haunting intro and deeply reflective lyrics: "Divine the cure from the poison and misery / sever the ties that enslave and are killing me / wring out this heart, make it bleed out the curse that's plaguing my eyes / gasping to catch my breath I feel the poison dissolving / filled with the remedy I once cast aside." "Face to Face" offers a nice assortment of strings and hits home at the crescendo when the lyric "death made me alive" is screamed out. "A Voice in the Violence" operates as another album highlight, bringing some excellent lyrics and melodies to bear.
Serving as the album's midway centerpiece, title track "Eclipse" is perhaps the best song on the album. The beautiful and melancholic tune pairs with the soul-baring lyrics: "I've worn out a path that leads to death / and I darkened my eyes / cold to Your love, am I inscribed upon Your hands? / Am I known at all? / If I fall away will I ever see Your face? / Is it much too late? / Have I gone too far? / Am I on the narrow road that leads to Home?"
"History" is another excellent offering which aptly demonstrates Wolves' mastery of the ebb and flow between calm and storm, while "The Sea in Between" feels as if it were pulled straight from Types & Shadows (in the best manner possible). The softer and more electronically infused "Alone" sees the band branch out a little more while still effectively tethering it to their existing sound. The somber closing track, "Blessings & Curses," masterfully conveys the tension explored within Eclipse: "How many songs of my betrayal / will I have sung before it's fatal? / Though all my words are weak and tired / Your love still blossoms like a fire / I know I cannot reach the heavens / wearing a harlot's heart, cursing Your name." The symmetrical poetry reflects top-tier songwriting as the album closes out with the hopeful lines, "O' Love that reaches from the heavens / to wretched, rebel hearts lost and alone / You took my curse, gave me Your blessing: giving me hope in death."
Ultimately, Eclipse effectively stands up when compared to Wolves' earlier albums, and shows a healthy dose of growth and an unparalleled degree of cohesion. Some fans may be split by whether they prefer the harder or softer iterations of the band, but it's hard to argue against Wolves at the Gate being one of the hardcore scene's best acts in recent years. This is most certainly one of 2019's best albums so far, and fans of post-hardcore would be remiss to looks past what Wolves has excellently crafted.- Review date: 7/19/19, written by David Craft of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Solid State Records
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