In 2011, a crushing force took the UK underground by a storm. The forces name is Gnarwolves and since their inception they have been turning heads and pulling in a steady stream of fans with their in-your-face punk rock attitude. They’ve taken their eclectic live shows to every corner of the UK and have added some impressive names to their CV by touring with Blink 182, Lower Than Atlantis, Funeral For A Friend and The Story So Far. The shows are known for their mass arms-aloft sing-alongs and armies of crowd surfers – which is why they went from opening the smallest stage at Reading and Leeds to opening the main stage in twelve months – while being the staple band for nearly every other major UK music festival. With a series of well-received EPs, the band is now ready to release their debut self-titled full-length – and what an album it is.
From the opening seconds of Gnarwolves, the band assails you with their explosive cocktail of snarling in-your-face punk energy and dangerously anthemic guitar hooks. These guitar riffs snarl out from under the cover of seemingly erratic, yet purposeful, crashing of cymbals and snare drums. The chugging rhythm is cleverly disguised as the same kind of snarling energy that you’d expect from a Rottweiler that has been chained up in the sun for too long. The sneering vocals of Charlie and Thom assail your ears with the same snarling intensity and vigour of a well-trained hard-core outfit. ‘
Despite their rowdy and rough-and-tumble punk rock sound, Gnarwolves have the same anthemic sensibility that the likes of I Am the Avalanche and Real Friends have channelled into their music. However, the stark difference between Gnarwolves and them is that Gnarwolves sounds more like a crusty hardcore punk outfit than an angst-ridden pop punk outfit with a couple of rough edges. Each song demands a crowd of sweaty individuals moshing their faces off, or better yet with their arms raised to the arms as they sing till their voices are hoarse and their feet hurt from wearing in their dusty combat boots. “Smoking Kills” is a perfect example of Gnarwolves ability to combine soaring anthemic melody with the vigour and sheer insanity of hardcore punk
“Bottle to Bottle” may be the most subdued song on the album, yet it is done in the most passive aggressive way possible with sneering vocals and a chugging guitar rhythm introducing song till a restrained breakdown kicks in and the hardcore-styled vocals kick in as the lyrics of “let’s get drunk in your car” are shouted with extreme gusto – imagine a Reading and Leeds sized crowd screaming that and you’ll get goosebumps.
However, if subdued passive aggressive songs about alcoholism and trying make a relationship work then don’t worry as Gnarwolves have got you covered. “Prove It” and “Boneyard” are mosh-worthy punk rock songs that are bound to tickle your fancy if you’d rather have your ears thrown into the ring with a heavy-weight boxing champion. Well placed screams and harsh vocals are thrown into these songs that give Gnarwolves the same scary appearance that chocker necklaces and dark make-up give the Goth counter-culture, and the band is capable of churning out a lot more songs like these.
There is no denying it, after mucking about in the UK underground, this Brighton trio is ready to take-over the world in the same way that Architects took over the world with their skull-crushing metal-core anthems. Except, instead of metal-core, Brighton is offering up a healthy dose of hardcore punk infused with the crowd-rousing choruses of angry pop punk. The wolves are at the door, and they are baying for blood.