[sic] Magazine

Wolf Eyes – I Am A Problem: Mind In Pieces

With over 500 – yes, 500 – releases since 1997, where can the newcomer possibly hope to start with DIY trip/noise legends Wolf Eyes? Well, they could definitely do far worse than test the water with the schizophrenically titled I Am A Problem: Mind In Pieces. Why here? Because for a band famed for their abstraction, dissonance and atonality this is an LP framed by its relative accessibility. Yes, within a generous industrial/experimental context, discernible guitar, drums and (unintelligible though macabre) vocals are all present and correct. Indeed, three of these lengthy six tracks so strongly resemble straightforward hard rock that I Am a Problem: Mind In Pieces may be too appealing for long-time followers.

Quite how much this all has to with Wolf Eyes making their debut on Jack White’s Third Man Records is anyone’s guess, but lest we forget this is a band that last peaked in a commercial sense with a couple of LPs on Sub Pop in the mid 00s. Props in any case to JW and/or his team for being so open-minded for this is still frightful stuff that in the main follows Nate Young, John Olson and Jim Baljo’s most recent horror-noise excursions either together, solo or under the guise of their various side projects.

Made to order then, the doomed opener sounds like Michael Gira clearing his throat as some wind section tunes up. The equally noncommercial “Asbestos Youth”, on the other hand, recalls the band’s previous successes in minimalist noise, Young’s manipulated spoken-word and a steadying heartbeat from the percussion the only anchors to various horror-metal soundtrack interjections. Chilly woodwind returns on the similarly styled and static-filled closer “Cynthia Vortex aka Trip Memory Illness”, but elsewhere it’s a different story.

Deploying both drum machine that sounds like knocking at the door and traditional kick-drum solemnity, recognisable rockers “Twister Nightfall” and “T.O.D.D.” grind out a groove through pure feedback and Young’s sludgy waveform. This is truly corrosive metal stretched out in molasses, but at just over three minutes the snarling “Enemy Ladder”, which combines heavyweight HC crunch with unforgiving broadsides from Balijo’s guitar, is the album’s most destructive material. Yet, remember Wolf Eyes close out I Am A Problem: Mind In Pieces in relative if abrupt bliss. Is that white noise you can hear? Is it just tinnitus? Neither, it’s the sound of Wolf Eyes dragging their leaden selves ever forward … and the broader noise genre with them.

Best track: “Enemy Ladder”

~I Am A Problem: Mind In Pieces is released November 13th 2015 via Third Man Records.~