Wolves At The Gate bridges a gap between metal lovers who want their faces melted with raw emotion, and those who embrace clean vocals, pretty guitar pluckin' and some angsty yelling. It's niche metal at best, cautious to pull listeners in either direction for too long.
"Vapors," the second track on the Ohio five-piece's new record, builds with 10 seconds of muted guitar akin to label mates Underoath, then bursts through with harmonic growls and dissonant frills. The tension is popped by clean vocals, more pretty guitar pluckin' and another dose of angsty yelling. This A+B=C formula is repeated with "Tonight My Son" and "Oh The Depths."
The band's real potential lies on "Heralds," which uses the rumbling, metal undertones to compliment as the punchline -- not pose the question. The tension isn't schematic or transparent. Much like Emery, whose early heyday with Tooth & Nail was built upon harmony and musicianship first, and screams and breakdowns second, Wolves At The Gate begs to be restructured for the sake of replay value. This is a song that plays from beginning to end with genuine clarity and purpose.
Solid State is the home of August Burns Red, The Chariot, Becoming The Archetype and and even the darker, re-branded Underoath. Perhaps Wolves At The Gate would be better suited for sister company Tooth & Nail, and not packaged as sold with the preconception that it's metal.