Sunday, October 29, 2006

Wolf Eyes "Human Animal" review

Freshmen year I sat in on a music appreciation class. The one thing I took away from that class is the definition of music. Put in simplest terms music is tension and release. Taken literally this means that music can be almost anything.

Michigan band Wolf Eyes push the limits of what music is and what it can be. Most often placed in the vague “noise” genre Wolf Eyes uses abrasive white noise and long spans of silence along with screaming, garbled vocals to create an unnerving creepy sound.

“Human Animal” is the bands second major label release off of Sub-Pop, following 2004’s “Burned Mind”. “Human Animal” is a haunting and jarring album that is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.

Wolf Eyes take tension and release as far as it will go. The band is at their best during longer tracks, where they can create a massive amount of tension and then explode. Wolf Eyes songs function somewhat like a good horror movie. You are constantly uneasy; never sure of what is around the corner.

It is difficult to break down “Human Animal” on a track-by-track basis. The songs blend together and could be listened to as one giant movement. In fact I would highly recommend only listening to “Human Animal” in its entirety, at least the first few times through. Not only does tension/release exist on individual songs, but on the album itself.

Stand alone tracks do exist though. “The Driller” has a disturbing high pitched whirr to it that befits the title. The song also showcases the best Wolf Eyes vocals, muffled screaming that sounds downright inhuman. The title track “Human Animal” drags you along, featuring heartbeat percussion and layer upon layer of terrible noises that come together to form an ugly piece of art. The closing track, “Noise Not Music” is a furious assault that clocks in at just over two minutes, the final exclamation of release.

No words can describe what Wolf Eyes sounds like. It’s painful, disturbing, ugly, coarse, dark, violent, and intricate. Wolf Eyes is a band, more than any other I have ever heard, that paints a picture with their music. What that picture is may be ugly and strange but it is undeniably there. Dismissing Wolf Eyes as noise is a mistake; they are music in its more pure and stripped down form.

“Human Animal” is a lot like abstract art, it is by no means for everyone and some people “just don’t get it.” But those who do swear by it and are rewarded with something very enjoyable.

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