Progressive Metal • Sweden
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Marcus Losbjer and Stefan Zell formed Wolverine in 1995, and before long Stefan’s younger brother Mikael joined the band. In the early days the band played melodic death metal, but by the time Wolverine recorded the band’s fourth demo, Fervent Dream, the music had evolved into melodic progressive metal mixed with some “growl-vocals”, an element kept since the band’s earlier days.

Shortly after the release of Fervent Dream the band was signed by Zizania Entertainment Group. Through Zizania the band released a partly re-recorded version of Fervent Dream as a mini-CD in November 1999. That same month they also performed outside Sweden for the first time in their career. Fervent Dream was received amazingly well by both media and audience. The band got amazing reviews and the CD soon sold out.

During 2000 the band signed on to a label called Emerald Factory, which resulted in a re-release of Fervent Dream in
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WOLVERINE The Window Purpose album cover 3.58 | 6 ratings
The Window Purpose
Progressive Metal 2001
WOLVERINE Cold Light of Monday album cover 3.50 | 2 ratings
Cold Light of Monday
Progressive Metal 2003
WOLVERINE Still album cover 3.50 | 7 ratings
Progressive Metal 2006
WOLVERINE Communication Lost album cover 3.98 | 14 ratings
Communication Lost
Progressive Metal 2011
WOLVERINE Machina Viva album cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
Machina Viva
Progressive Metal 2016

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WOLVERINE Fervent Dream album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Fervent Dream
Progressive Metal 1999

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WOLVERINE Machina Viva

Album · 2016 · Progressive Metal
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One of my favorite prog albums of the decade was the 2011 release Communication Lost, by Swedish band Wolverine. The group started out as a death metal band in their early years, before quickly switching to a much more melodic sound, and while their full length debut The Window Purpose did feature death growls, the turn to a softer, more progressive sound was already noticeable. By the time Communication Lost came, the band was in full out prog mode, leaning more towards a rock sound than metal, with a large focus on atmosphere and emotional vocals and lyrics, making for one of the most powerful albums I’ve heard from anyone in the genre. Now with their fifth full length release, Machina Viva, Wolverine are back and their sound has evolved even further, incorporating some electronic elements while continuing to use minimalism to their advantage, resulting in another outstanding album.

Unlike many prog bands, Wolverine’s music is not about being flashy, not in the least. Don’t get me wrong, though: Their musicianship is certainly great, with each member being given space to showcase their talents, but the band frequently demonstrates the ability to tone it down and use a minimal amount of sounds, with more of a focus on strong melodies and ambiance. For example, a couple tracks don’t require most of the band to do much of anything at all, and they use this minimalism to their advantage, allowing the atmosphere and emotional vocals to take over. At times the music feels like a lighter, more textured take on the later Katatonia sound, though the best comparison I can make would be if Anubis Gate were to do a whole album focused on their softer side, with none of the power metal elements. Everything here feels very well thought out, with the band using only the sounds they think will work best for each section, instead of throwing in everything they possibly can and seeing how it works out, like some prog bands can be known to do.

A very important part of their sound is obviously vocalist Stefan Zell. As always, he has a very smooth and calm delivery, and he really excels at being emotive while still allowing the melodies to fully shine through. At times on this album he sings a bit lower than normal, which fits well with the overall darker tone, and there are times where his voice reminds me a bit of Mikael Åkerfeldt though he clearly has more range at this point. Of all the elements on this album, Stefan’s vocals may be the most important, and on every track he does an outstanding job.

The album begins strong with the epic 15 minute opener “The Bedlam Overture”. This track is a perfect example of what to expect from Wolverine: It starts out very calm, with the keyboards dominating throughout the first few minutes, before the vocals eventually kick in, and the track stays calm for a while before the guitars hit and it becomes a bit heavier, though by no means aggressive. It’s a very introspective track, more focused on melodies than anything else, and even the extended solo sections are very nice and melodic in nature, and not at all flashy.

Next up is “Machina”, a more experimental track. It has a very electronic feel to it, with how the keyboards sound, and Stefan’s vocals give the song a feeling of accessibility. Guitars do eventually kick in, but it’s quite the soft and melodic track overall. Things only calm down further with “Pile of Ash”, one of the more simple tracks on the album. This one consists entirely of very soft guitars and Stefan’s vocals, with the latter being especially dominant and given space to shine. Towards the end they add in sustained guitar notes in the background, which makes for a very cool effect. All instruments return on “Our Long Goodbye”, another very melodic and vocal driven track, full of hooks and great vocal melodies, making for one of the more instantly satisfying tracks on the album.

The metal side of the band comes through a bit more on “Pledge”, the heaviest track on the album. It has the most sustained riffs on the album, and some excellent guitar work overall, though it’s still largely focused on atmosphere and emotion, once again enhanced by the excellent vocals. Next is “When the Night Comes”, a fairly light track for the most part, driven by perhaps the best and most exciting chorus of the album, as well as a great solo section. Speaking of which, the best guitar solo of the album is on “Nemesis”, a track that starts off feeling like a piano ballad, before picking up steam and getting a bit heavier along the way. Lastly, we have “Sheds”, a very nice ballad wish features only Stefan’s vocals and some very ambient synth work in the background. As a bonus track, the band included a second version of “Pile of Ash”, which is basically an orchestral version of the track, though the vocals are still included.

I was blown away by Wolverine the first time I heard Communication Lost, and while nothing else they do may ever hit me as hard as that album did, Machina Viva is a nice evolution of their sound, featuring occasional experimental sections, as well a continued focus on atmosphere and emotion. Fans of melodic prog with huge vocal melodies and a focus on minimalism and intelligent song compositions over flashiness are highly recommended to check it out.

Originally written for myglobalmind.com (http://myglobalmind.com/2016/07/03/wolverine-machina-viva-review/)

WOLVERINE The Window Purpose

Album · 2001 · Progressive Metal
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"The Window Purpose" is the debut full-length studio album by swedish progressive metal act Wolverine. The album was released through DVS Records in November 2001. The 2005 Earache Records reissue features a different cover artwork, an improved sound production and an additional 10 minutes long track titled "Again!".

Wolverine apparently started life as a melodic death metal band which can be heard a few times on "The Window Purpose". The music is very influenced by the softer more melodic Dream Theater and especially early- to mid nineties Fates Warning. They do have their own sound even though the influences are clearly heard. Their death metal past is nowhere to be found in the instrumental side of the music but there are occasional semi-growling vocals on the album that tell the story of a band that started out playing a more extreme style of music. The semi-growling vocal delivery is something I could have done without though. Not because I don´t like growling but drummer Marcus Losbjer who growls on the album is not a very convincing growler. It sounds powerless and tame. He simply doens´t sound like he means it. It´s a minor complaint though and fortunately "The Window Purpose" features lots of great parts and quality clean vocals.

The music is pre-dominantly softer progressive metal with lots of non distorted guitar parts. The only really heavy riff appears in the track "Coma" and it´s only an element among others in that song. The whole album is of high quality but "My Room" needs a mention as one of the highlights with it´s very Fates Warning like off-beat drumming. Stefan Zell is an excellent singer and with his beautiful clean vocal delivery the tracks come to life. The musicianship is generally very strong though. One other asset is the well sounding production.

"The Window Purpose" might not be the most original sounding progressive metal album out there, but if you enjoy progressive metal which emphasize melody and only secondly complexity, "The Window Purpose" is a recommendable listen. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

WOLVERINE Communication Lost

Album · 2011 · Progressive Metal
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Conor Fynes
'Communication Lost' - Wolverine (8/10)

Just when I thought all of the fresh talent in prog metal was hiding towards the more extreme side of the spectrum, I am introduced to this band, the Swedish quintet Wolverine. Although this is the band's fourth album to date, 'Communication Lost' will likely be the first that many hear of the band, due to the greater publicity they have received for it. Although I am rarely one to fall into the trap of hype, Wolverine was certainly a band I had heard great things about from more than a couple music experts.Although I was expecting Wolverine to fall into the same rut of Dream Theater or Symphony X that so many melodic prog metal bands do, the change of pace here is refreshing, and while not an entirely new breath of fresh air than what I have already heard in the style, Wolverine do plant themselves as one of the last vestiges of hope in a style that I personally think got tired over a decade ago.

My personal cynicisms for melodic prog metal aside, Wolverine are a truly impressive act, and the fact that I find myself so endeared to them with all things considered should be a testament to their strength as an act. Musically, Wolverine is not such a far cry from compatriots Pain of Salvation; their music is heavy at times, but always melodic, and resists the temptation to become an overly technical wankfest a la Dream Theater. Instead, Wolverine bases 'Communication Lost' around the long lost art of proper songwriting; their music uses sometimes complex musicianship, but it is always based in a tight composition, and this really grabs my attention. The vocals here are often the center of attention atop tasteful instrumentation, the atmosphere is kept somewhat dark and melancholic throughout, and- coming as a surprise to someone that was expecting a metal album- tastefully mellow. Wolverine is instead heavy prog rock throughout most of this, although I would have to say that the vocals keep a metallic tinge to the music. Stefan Zell's voice is generally a lower register tenor, with a stern tone to his delivery. His real highlights are when he goes and hits higher notes, which he does beautifully; one really wonders why he doesn't sing up there more, because his high register stuff is much more impressive.

The songwriting here is generally the highlight of the album. Everything is beautifully produced and polished, but the sound stays organic; a sure sign of a successful studio job. The songwriting really caught my attention from the first listen onwards though; while the atmosphere that Wolverine makes on 'Communication Lost' rarely becomes upbeat or cheery, they get the sadness across with a variety of different sounds. 'Pulse' is one of the most memorable tracks here, using some lively electronics to create a hook. 'Into The Great Nothing' makes perfect use of those upper pitch vocals that Stefan Zell does so well, and gets fairly heavy, only to be trailed by a nice acoustic passage in 'Poison Ivy'. The highlight moments on 'Communication Lost' are brilliant, although it would have been nice to hear even a couple more of them as the album progresses. The album is one of the most consistent records I have heard throughout the year, but it does feel like Wolverine keeps their sound a little too restrained; still a vast preference from the overindulgent noodling that the Dream Theater clones adhere themselves to, but 'Communication Lost' could have used a little more of the great, powerful heaviness that they only seem to hint at here. All the same, it gets me excited to see what else that the band has in store.

Wolverine are a band that I was not expecting to impress me, but they did well to leave an impression on me; 'Communication Lost' is an expansive collection of tracks that all succeed in delivering some sort of dark quality to them. Although I could still draw some Pain of Salvation comparisons to the band, they do have a more adventurous sound going for them than much prog metal, and they have been placed on the map for me after hearing what they have to offer from 'Communication Lost'.

WOLVERINE Communication Lost

Album · 2011 · Progressive Metal
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Phonebook Eater

“Communication Lost” is an emotional, pulsating album that sounds like from the near future, without being really innovating.

Among all the Progressive Rock/Metal bands of the new decade, Wolverine are in some way simply one of the many, one that just stuck to the prog rules and released albums that were loyal to the genre, somewhat brave sounding and some innovating moments. With “Communication Lost”, it is obvious that Wolverine have a distinct style, even though “Still”, their previous album, sounded even more original and promising.

There is tons of melody and accessibility, which definitely contributed in making this band famous in the prog community; as a matter of fact, the experimentation isn’t really that big of an element on this one. What we have here are good rock songs strongly blended with Progressive Metal elements, such as some heavy guitars, some interesting time changes, nice keyboard sounds, and pretty progressive-like song structures. Because of it’s straight-forwardness, I can’t help thinking at times of Alternative Rock as a big influence on this one. The moods here aren’t exactly positive: some times, the music is quite depressing and sad. However, it is in many parts a beautiful portrait of hope. Between melancholic acoustic parts, dramatic keyboards, and surprising electronic bursts, “Communication Lost” is a greatly emotional album, definitely one of the most haunting sounding albums of 2011.

Wolverine are a band that take human emotions and make them the most modern sounding as possible, using elements in their music that just sound of the future. However, they manage to do that without being particularly innovative, as the melodies are at times predictable, even though the songwriting is mostly very strong. But the impact this album gives is quite unique, and the atmosphere it has is very enjoyable. This band shows their talent in songwriting with songs like “Into The Great Nothing”, the song that starts off the album after the three minute intro, or the slower but quite beautiful “Poison Ivy”, or the strongly emotional title track and “Pulse”, with it’s electronic beat that makes it an automatic standout.

“Communication Lost” is a great experience for whoever loves the genre, a little highlight and gem for today’s Prog Rock.

WOLVERINE Communication Lost

Album · 2011 · Progressive Metal
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Of all the genres in the heavy metal spectrum, progressive metal seems to be the most thoroughly criticized for being unoriginal and derivative; a bit ironic when one considers the meaning of the word "progressive". But it's hard to disagree - the amount of Dream Theater clones out there is staggering and, quite frankly, disappointing. That's why it's encouraging to see bands like Wolverine constantly pushing the envelope of what the genre can offer and creating fantastic art in the process. Communication Lost is their fourth full- length album, and also their first in the last five years. These Swedish masterminds have returned with a bang, though, and Communication Lost is one of the finest prog metal releases that 2011 (or any year) has to offer. I have no problem with calling this album an absolute masterpiece and a mandatory purchase for all prog metal fans looking for something different from your standard Dream Theater-clone release.

Wolverine plays a style of atmospheric progressive metal with influences from acts like Pain of Salvation, Porcupine Tree, Fates Warning, and Pink Floyd. Communication Lost certainly isn't the heaviest prog metal album you'll ever hear, and a good portion of it is pure atmospheric prog rock. Every track here is extremely melancholic and dark, from a musical and lyrical perspective. The lyrics, dealing with heavy topics like addiction and abuse, help add to the overall somber feeling present throughout the entire album. The music, as previously mentioned, is generally soft and not too technical. Acoustic guitars, mellow synth tones, powerful vocals, piano, and a strong rhythm section dominate much of Communication Lost. There are also a fair amount of cello sections - a bit surprising for a prog metal album, but is remarkably beautiful during the piano-led sections (particularly on "What Remains"). Every song here is absolutely beautiful, particularly "Embrace", "What Remains", and "In The Quiet Of Dawn". There are a few heavier (but still absolutely beautiful) tracks like "Communication Lost", "Your Favorite War", and "In Memory of Me". This album flows wonderfully and I'd actually consider every song to be a masterpiece. Communication Lost is one of the very few 70-minute albums without a second of filler; that really shows what fantastic songwriters Wolverine are.

Although Wolverine are not as technically-oriented as the majority of prog metal bands out there, they still certainly have some fantastic chops and (most importantly) are capable of injecting soulful emotion into every note on the album. The keyboard playing from Per Hendriksson especially stands out for me; his atmospheric synth playing and terrific piano mastery are an integral part of the music on Communication Lost. Stefan Zell's vocals also stand out to me, seeing that he has the power of Ray Alder and the beauty and diversity of Daniel Gildenlöw. It's hard to think of a better prog metal vocalist than that! The production is also spectacular on Communication Lost. It's clear, powerful, professional, and sets the perfect atmospheric feel to fit Wolverine's music.

I'm absolutely ecstatic about Communication Lost, and I sincerely hope that these feelings were shining throughout my review. This album is a tremendous statement from Wolverine; one that hopefully gets them the recognition that they deserve among the prog metal community. Seldom do I come across an album this beautiful, touching, and well- crafted. Wolverine really have outdone themselves this time, and created one of the most recommendable progressive metal albums ever released. 5 stars are well-deserved for this essential masterpiece. I can guarantee that Communication Lost will be in my top five albums of 2011 - it really is that good. Even with new Opeth and Dream Theater albums on the horizon, I have a feeling that Communication Lost may remain unsurpassed as the year's best prog metal album. Essential!

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