VxV, pronounced “Five by Five” (not V-X-V, as many have blundered, some more publicly than others) is quite the album. Following a stellar EP and full length, combined with bold lyrics straight out of the Bible, some high expectations were had by yours truly for the sophomore release. My intrigue skyrocketed when my friend Cory Hajde (also the band’s manager) pegged their new stuff as a mixture of Thrice, Thursday and Oh Sleeper.
The first thing many will notice about VxV is that Steve Cobucci sings more – a LOT more. The ratio of singing to screaming from Nick Detty is nearly half and half. The album is also a lot more consistent than Captors – not that Captors is bad. It is just that VxV feels much more cohesive. There’s a general feeling that extends throughout the duration of the record – one that invokes a feeling of Wolves at the Gate’s message being a call to arms. The very album title hints at this – it was explained recently that VxV is code for “loud and clear” – exactly how the band wants to get their message across. The John Piper soundbite in “The Father’s Bargain” is a nice touch at accentuating this characteristic, because of how passionate his sermons are.[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BM_uKdtZwQA[/youtube]
So is the Oh Sleeper/Thrice/Thursday comparison accurate? Well, yeah. Firstly, if you haven’t picked up the Dustin Kensrue vibe from Cobucci’s vocals you’ve been living under a rock. The Oh, Sleeper vibe is definitely present in songs like “Wake Up” (“Son of the Morning” anyone?) and “Rest” (the drum intro is vaguely reminiscent of “Hush Yael” and like Oh, Sleeper tracks). My favorite track is probably “The Bird and the Snake.” Steve really stretches his abilities in this song, and the hook is enough to give many people chills. “The Father’s Bargain,” while not as bone-chilling as “Man of Sorrows” from Captors, is a fitting album closer that focuses on how Christ knew for eternity the cost of sin – yet decided His sacrifice was worth it anyway. Powerful stuff.
This review wouldn’t be complete without due kudos given to the rhythm section. Bassist Ben Sommers is in an under appreciated position. The charisma of Nick Detty and vocal prowess of Steve Cobucci are the most readily apparent attributes of the band, yet Ben adds a layer of depth that is an absolute necessity. New-ish drummer Dylan Baxter holds down the fort like Zac Mayfield of Oh, Sleeper – but with an even more unassuming demeanor live. One wouldn’t guess this from the recordings though. He thunders, and its not just the production that evidences this.
Bottom line: Wolves at the Gate are bold in their message and songwriting, and this aint slowing down anytime soon.