The name of the Swedish Prog metal band Wolverine brings back some memories. In November 1999 when the band did not have a record deal yet, I wrote my first review ever for progVisions about their EP “Fervent Dream”. At that time they were transmuting from a death-metal band into a prog-metal band. Two of the four songs on that disc included some grunts that were combined with so called clean vocals. In my review I wrote that I was looking forward to a full length album of the band because I thought that this band had the potential to become very big. You decide if my prediction came true. But I followed the band and have some of their albums in my personal record collection. In the year 2011 their fourth studio album “Communication Lost” made quite an impression. The band sounded so mature and their music had transformed into progressive metal. So to my surprise I received last month their new and fifth studio album “Machina Viva”. It was send to me by Mike Coene of Hard Life Promotion who does among others the Benelux promotion for the American label Sensory Records, a sub label of The Laser's Edge group.
Per Henriksson - keyboards and sounds; Thomas Jansson - bass guitar and speaker on track 5; Jonas Jonsson - acoustic and electric guitars; Marcus Losbjer - drums and acoustic / electronic percussion; Stefan Zell - lead and backing voices
Jonas Eklund - French horn on tracks 1, 4; Mikael Hessler - congas on tracks 1, 5, 6, 7; Stefan Moberg - cello on tracks 6, 9; Christian Moos - chimes on track 6; Saskia Wickihalder Pettersson - vocals on track 4; Per Broddesson - guitar solo on track 2
The Swedish Wolverine surprised me once again in a positive way. On their fifth studio album “Machina Viva” the music has now developed from progressive metal into progressive rock with some hard bits, but the overall atmosphere of the album has a somewhat more mellow character. The album opens with the longest track “The Bedlam Overture” (14:40). A well balanced track that slowly builds up the tension and then the band surprises with a beautiful melodic guitar or keyboard strings part. This trick works very well. Several times you will expect a big climax but the band then continues with a great instrumental part. In that way the music retains a brooding character.
The next tracks “Machine” and “Pile Of Ash” (Es-335 Version) are standing out for the beautiful vocal melodies that are sung by vocalist Stefan Zell. But this said, I think this counts for the whole album. This guy has developed into a world class vocalist, I am impressed.
“Our Last Goodbye” has also a more mellow character. The following track “Pledge” has more aggressive parts but the sound of the whole album is in balance by the wonderful mix. In “Pledge” you can find some great melodies ... It is one of my favorite tracks. “When The Night Comes” opens with acoustic guitars and you can find some beautiful keyboard strings and vocal refrains in this track. In the end there is also the cello of guest Stefan Moberg ... Great classical ending!
The next ten minutes you can enjoy listening to another highlight of this album, the track “Nemesis”. Besides the beautiful vocal melodies and keyboard strings you can also enjoy some nice synth and guitar parts. Officially the album is ending with the beautiful ballad “Sheds”. But on my copy you can find the bonus track “Pile Of Ash (Cello version)”. As you will notice by looking at the title, in this version the Es-335 guitar is replaced by the cello. This gives the track a wonderful classical atmosphere.
Together with the previous album “Communication Lost” I would like to recommend the new “Machina Viva” album to all the progressive rock fans that are normally not into progressive metal. You can forget the word metal. In contrast with the previous album, because of the mix of this album, the vocals are standing out more. I think the band Wolverine could reach for a bigger audience with this wonderful album.