It’s certainly true that struggle can weigh heavily on a band’s physical, mental, and creative shoulders. After the trials of losing their previous vocalist just as they were refining their already chaotic sound, To Speak of Wolves have tread through the massive pressures that almost uprooted their feet firmly from the ground. Despite such setbacks, the additions of vocalist Gage Speas and bassist Seth Webster fully provided the band with more than enough potential to craft their sophomore release, Find Your Worth, Come Home.
This record is personal, centered around the childhood of Speas and around the struggles that many people face as they question their faith. From start to finish, the tumultuous ride that it encompasses is blisteringly fast, emotional, and anguish-stricken to say the least. The whole record is laced with a loose net of musicianship, tight but with enough room to let the instruments feedback off of each other and truly give each band member the space to vacate his own thought processes. You’ll rarely find a moment on this record when you aren’t being shrouded in some sort of emotion, be it from the instrumentation, lyrics, or general aura that sonically decimates your subconscious as you take in its ginormous wall of sound.
Album opener “Hivemind” is cut from the feedback-ridden block, short in stature but furious in speed as the dynamic tradeoff from instrument to instrument foreshadows the upcoming journey. Except for a brief slow-down in the bridge compiled with chanting, the pace continues straight into the record’s first single, “Stand Alone Complex.” Immediately you’ll feel right at home if something that shreds like The Chariot’s “Daggers” or Underoath’s “Breathing In a New Mentality” gets your heart racing. This song is entirely self-driven, and the bone-crushing intensity refuses to let up, even when Micah Kinard of Oh, Sleeper steps in to offer his own brand of malicious throat decimation.
This formula is what makes their music so cathartic. You’ll get pummeled hit by hit in “Vertigo” and “Broken Birds,” where trade-for-trade every malevolent riff and chord progression that comes your way (courtesy of Corey Doran and Aaron Kisling) is sure to shake you down to the core. “A Simple Thought That Changed Everything” takes a slight step back from the math/metal-core infusion that hardly gives you room to breathe, instead relying on soaring clean vocals, infectious bass melody and absolutely brutal drumming. Drummer Phil Chamberlain and the aforementioned Seth Webster drive these songs with a groove rarely seen in today’s metal scene; when the pockets are created, the rest of the band members can work together to create beautiful works of art, such as with the following track “Nostalgia Seeds.”
One thing to keep in mind is that beneath the haunting melodies, this record oozes with positivity. This record is more of a transcendental journey than anything – take the next track “Je Suis Fini” for instance. It’s about the concept of being who you were born to be; as an increasingly prevalent topic in modern day culture, the uplifting spin really works wonders for this band, especially since this whole album is so deep it took me many listens to fully appreciate its complete value.
You’ll approach a slow down in “Oregon,” which is specifically about Speas’ mother and father and their divorce he experienced as a child – something a lot of us can relate to. This particular song is crushing, forceful, and tear-worthy. At this point in the album I knew I had delved into something truly special. The next two songs “Dialysis Dreams” and “Voidmaker” really showcase the band in full stride, because as earlier the chaos is non-stop. Fortunately, there’s still more to say. Approaching my favorite part of the record is this band’s greatest work to date, “Rearview Memories.” This song is utterly personal, and devoid of any chance your eyes won’t swell up as you listen to Speas rip himself apart. Built on the story of guest vocalists Levi the Poet and his sister Bree Macallister’s father’s suicide, the trade-off of their spoken vocals and the band’s emotional roller-coaster that follows is heart-wrenching and will tear your stomach to nothing. Honestly I can’t imagine the process of recording this song, but what I can say is that once you hear it, you will feel something. That is what they intended, and I promise it will happen. This is how you end a record, that’s all there is to it.
To Speak of Wolves have crafted a work of art that superseded everyone’s expectations, including my own. The only complaint I could find with this album is that some of the tracks can start to run together at times, but that’s merely an introductory thing. Once you let it grow on you, it’ll all stand out. Find Your Worth, Come Home is cathartic, engaging, aggressive, and nearly perfect. I couldn’t be more honored to say that they have not only succeeded in avoiding the sophomore slump, but they have created a record that will undoubtedly stand among their next works. Don’t waste any more time and give this band your undivided attention. I am not only excited, but anxious as to the potential they possess. I eagerly look forward to the next installment of this band’s career.