One of punk music's finest orgcore and melodic hardcore acts, Gnarwolves come straight out of Brighton, making ferociously paced music that's as emotive as it is pummelling. The self-titled 'Gnarwolves' is their first full record after a flurry of EPs, and was produced by long-time collaborator Lewis John. It's a thrilling and immediate record of guitar wielding, as always, but Thom Weeks also considers it a little meta, taking on the myths around punks and making them a positive force. Gnarwolves are recommended for fans of literary punk rock acts like Titus Andronicus, Title Fight, Martha and RVIVR.
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Skater beardy bros Gnarwolves have always been something of an oddball in the orgcore scene; rather than be there because of their lyrically potent punk rock and warbling anthems, it's as if their sound has been stitched together through a few different genres. They remind me of early Joyce Manor in the drumming department, in that the dude behind the kit wishes he was in a fastcore band at times. The guitar riffs sometimes veer towards some sort of heavy metal worship vibe, with tinges of melodic hardcore in the guitar tone. And then there are the vocals, which shift dramatically between ferocious scowls and the kind of low, sad hum that characterises Manchester Orchestra. Gnarwolves are basically a lot of things in one big, blustery sound: the result, with their first and self-titled full-length, is a record that goes down many routes, often in one song alone, and doesn't quite come out with that one-two punch they're looking for.
It would be harsh to think Gnarwolves are aiming for clarity in their music -- clutter and chaos is definitely part of the appeal -- but the best moments on 'Gnarwolves' are brief nuggets of guitar twinkling lucidity, where the switch-up between chord-chugging choruses and quick, nimble verses (and vice versa) feels catchy and vital. As far as skate punk goes, this isn't the most meaningful or personally captivating -- it's not going to attach itself to your heart like 'Joyce Manor', 'Knife Man' or your average Jawbreaker record -- but it's as ferocious as anything. If you're looking to get your skull blasted before you hit the road, 'Gnarwolves' is the record you want.
Also, the back of the record sleeve is dedicated to the lizards-run-the-government conspiracy theory, and I just can't stand with that. I am totally not a lizard -- just a guy who likes punk rock wailing.
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