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Album review: The Wolf Howls When I Scream Your Name – Where Flies Will Reign

Sometimes there is nothing better than listening to dark and emotional music when feeling dark and emotional. There’s something about wallowing in the music, self-pity and feelings in the songs that makes the listener eventually feel better. Perhaps it is because, in the sadness and desperation of the music, it feels like you’re not alone; someone else gets it. This is precisely what The Wolf Howls When I Scream Your Name’s music does to the listener and the band’s newest EP ‘Where Flies Will Reign’ is no exception.

The Wolf Howls When I Scream Your Name was originally a solo project of Mancunian singer-songwriter Matthew Aubrey but it now includes drummer Sam Johnson and bassist Harry Woodrow. Aubrey says that Alice In Chain’s acoustic recordings heavily influence him and this can be heard in his lyrical style which reflects that of the band’s late frontman Layne Staley. Aubrey also explains that the name of the album came from the lyricism in ‘Jar of Flies’ and the band’s self-titled album.  Other influences are also mixed into the three songs though with both Lovely Shiny Teardrop and I-m Not Well reminiscent of Radiohead. In the band’s previous EP ‘To Be Where There is Pale Light’, Aubrey’s vocal style had a Matt Berninger from The National feel which does carry into this latest EP. But whereas the previous EP had hard-hitting, catchy rock bangers, this latest one is more ambient, dark and sinister.

First track My Anaemic Friend starts with interesting and sinister notes, feeling slinky and menacing with moody vocals. Halfway through, however, the bass line builds the song into a fuzzy wall of guitars, and then screams are heard. This song is a slow build that has the feeling of crashing down at the end.

Next up is Lovely Shiny Teardrop which starts the Radiohead feeling of the EP. This song feels more positive in some ways than the previous song but is still a sad, desperate kind of slow dance. I-m Not Well finishes out the EP in a Radiohead Creep kind of way. The song says: “I’m not well / can’t you tell / As my life falls to pieces” and this song has a deep melancholic feeling but breaks into a fantastic instrumental break midway through.  Aubrey explains that the EP is “a small selection of three songs that all revolve around a relationship making you feel unwell, whilst having this subconscious sense that everything is going to fall apart, whilst blaming yourself in the midst of it alland this is portrayed perfectly in these songs. The sickness, the sadness and desperation can be heard along with the crashing down of the relationship. Mixed in there somewhere though something feels almost optimistic like the writing of these songs was cathartic and a broken heart can now begin to heal. This slight optimistic feeling doubles back to the idea that sad songs can make a listener feel better in the end.

Comparisons and influences aside, what this band is doing is exciting, and even though their influences can be heard clearly, they put their own spin on these emotive, dark songs. With the understanding that this is an EP so it would only have a few songs, the only (slight) downside is purely that – it only has a few songs. The listener gets set up to get right into their feelings and then suddenly it’s over much too soon. The band have promised on their Facebook that an album is in the works and it honestly can’t come quickly enough.

★★★★✩

Where Flies Will Reign is out January 17.

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