I have used this line before but if I had a record label, I would sign this band. I’ve been a supporter of In the Presence of Wolves since prior to their debut album, “Thalassas” came out in 2014. It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since then. A lot can happen to a young band in that time and ITPOW is no exception.
One change has been that guitarist Justin Alexander left and was eventually replaced by Jim Ellis. The band has kept their core intact (including Vini Stamato, Chris Capitanio, and Mason Ingling) and thus their new EP “Of Two Minds, Stages 1-2: The Ape and The Cage” does sound enough like their debut album that there’s no mistaking that it’s still ITPOW. However, the band has tightened their sound up even more and bassist/lead vocalist Stamato is singing better than ever.
Stamato has a high voice that reminds me a bit of Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Salvatore Marrano of Thank You Scientist. It is suspicious that both Stamato and Marrano are Italians with epic beards. Has anyone seen them in the same place? Get back to me. But the main difference in his vocals on the EP is that there’s less of the urgent screaming he did on the album. Sure the title track has some as does the closer, MUA. But Stamato picks his spots which works to his advantage. It’s more about the strong melodies of the songs and then when the big emotional moment hits, he can scream a bit.
The other difference that I hear is that the band is stretching out more. Whether it’s the intriguing two halves of the opener “As We Speak (Part 1)” or the aforementioned epic title track, the band allow the song to be a song but also showcase the fact that they are awesome musicians too. ITPOW care about the songs first and foremost. And these are great songs! “White Noise” should be played on rock radio, dammit!
Musically there’s a dose of the melodic side of Between the Buried and Me, the adventure of TYS and the occasional bombast of Protest the Hero. But you’d be hard pressed to say that the band really sound too much like any of those bands. That’s another point in the favor of ITPOW. They have influences but never mimic them. It’s something that veteran bands don’t always master.
“Of Two Minds, Stages 1-2: The Ape and The Cage” has NO filler at all. It’s a solid 33 minutes of melodic prog that walks the line between prog rock and prog metal with the best of them (see Haken). The EP will certainly be a candidate for my favorite one from 2017. Hopefully there are additional stages because I love stage 1 and 2!
1. As We Speak (Part 1)
2. The One Who Fell To Earth
3. White Noise
4. The Ape And The Cage
5. M.U.A. (Manipulation Under Anesthesia)