It’s been a while since the last Wolverine album. Granted, they have never rushed to get an album released for the sake of it. “Communication Lost” was released in 2011 and “Still” was released in 2006. So “Machina Viva” is right on time. Musically, the album doesn’t sound too far removed from its predecessors. Wolverine have a dark prog metal sound and they are really good at it.
It would be easy to say that “Machina Viva” is “more of the same” but really it does a few things differently which is great. The opening track “The Bedlam Overture” is the longest track at nearly 15 minutes but it’s not this complex epic that many might assume from a prog band. Rather the song reminds me of what When Heaven Wept does. It’s prog but with a doom slant to it. It’s slow and brooding. It’s also a great showcase for Stefan Zell’s amazing voice.
Another song that has a different vibe is “When the Night Comes,” which is rather upbeat soundwise in comparison to other Wolverine songs. I love the ending of it with some excellent percussion that adds to the movement of the track. “Pile of Ash” appears in two different versions. The song is very sparse and one version has an acoustic guitar and the other has a string accompaniment. I am not sure which I prefer since each rely on Zell’s voice to pull off the song, which he does.
“Nemesis” is a favorite track of mine. It’s another big, epic track with strings. It wouldn’t sound out of place on “Communication Lost.” It has the drama and tension that I expect from Wolverine, plus a catchy chorus. In short, Wolverine have done it again. “Machina Viva” is another stellar effort from one of my favorite bands. Is it their best release? I’m not sure they topped “Communication Lost” but it’s a bit early to say. Wolverine should be mentioned in the same breath with all of the current great modern prog artists like Steven Wilson, Katatonia and Opeth. “Machina Viva” is another crowning achievement for them.
1. The Bedlam Overture
3. Pile Of Ash (ES335 version)
4. Our Last Goodbye
6. When The Night Comes
9. Pile Of Ash (cello version)