If you listened in on our 2015 Bracket discussion, brought to you by Brown Bear on the Air (http://brownbearontheair.blogspot.com/2016/01/change-rotation-guest-episode.html), you heard me proclaim the February Alphabet of Random Records. Not one of my brightest ideas, but I’m on record of saying it, so I’m stuck.
So the idea is this: in the month of February, I give you a Random Record for each letter of the alphabet. We’ve got 29 days of February this year, so I get three days to be lazy. Three strikes and I’m out, if you will. The point of Random Records is to either write about records I love to highlight bands or records that might have escaped your attention. I try to do the latter more with the February Alphabet.
So, without further ado…
D is for Direwolves
Throatruiner Records, 2013
Part of the fun of Random Records is picking out bands that I don’t think any of my friends know. Sometimes it’s a miss and no one cares about it. Other times, it ends up being a hit. Look at the success Caves had in the 2013 bracket for an example of that. France’s Direwolves is another one of these bands who I have to shine the spotlight on. I don’t quite remember how I discovered Direwolves, but wherever it was, it was the name that drew me in. Dire wolves are more widely known now thanks to Game of Thrones, but my interest in looking into the band was born entirely of my paleontological obsessions. The dire wolf, or Canis dirus, was a large species of wolf that flourished during the ice age and is famous for its obscene numbers at the La Brea tar pits in California, where specimens represent over 4,000 individuals. The pack hunters were major carnivores during this era of megafauna, going extinct along with the rest of them around 10,000 years ago.
The band is as fast and ferocious as its mammalian namesake. Direwolves play a metallic hardcore. There’s a little bit of melody that works its way through in the guitar work, and the technicality of the leads sometimes gives it a bit of a thrash feel. The vocals are the traditional shouts of metallic hardcore that were brought forth by bands like Earth Crisis, and songs like “Face the Facts,” are short, metallic, hardcore blasts. Songs like “Insights” and “The Liar’s Choice” just pummel away, beating you into submission and lines like “You expected sense, / You found a meaningless shape. / You expected love / You found out that we're all dead,” from “The Blindness that Keeps You Warm,” paints the darkness that accompanies the unrelenting force of this record.
Bands like this seem to be getting more and more popular, following the trail blazed by bands like Converge, and labels like Deathwish seem to put out a lot of this metallic hardcore. For me, it’s always hit or miss stuff. I love the heaviness of Direwolves, the pace and the force that they can throw down, but also how they can step back and slow down, with a more introspective feel as in songs like “Light it Up.” They’re not just repeating the same formula, but they’re finding different ways to make you feel uncomfortable. It’s not pleasant music, nor are the vocals peaceful in any way. It’s the kind of music you would expect to come out on a label named Throatruiner. Aegri Somnia is at a name your price download, and all Throatruiner records are the same way. If you’re into this kind of stuff, it’s worth checking out more of their catalog.