Young and in the Way
Dead in the Dirt
2. Three Days
3. Bottom Feeder
5. Cobblestone & Smoke
6. Tar Covered
7. Crows Feet
8. Sympathy of Wolves
9. Hell Followed
10. The Binding Dark
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The road to powerviolence hell is paved with good intentions. I think that for such a stripped-down, immediate form, attempts to branch out often result in nothing more than grating noise and whiny feedback explained away as “experimentation.” Hardcore is another genre whose experiments often end up in borderline unlistenable territory. That said, when bands’ attempts at stretching out the tried-and-true formulas of these respective genres are successful, they can be monumental. I say this because though YOUWRETCH falls neatly in the not-even-close-to-neat powerviolence/hardcore subset, the contents of Sympathy of Wolves can wander off the path in what will not be a smooth ride.
“Sinner” sets the table with its straight-ahead rage, but the likes of “Three Days” (subtly hinting at future melody), “Bottom Feeder,” and “Fields” devour whatever was on that table, silverware, glassware, and all. Sympathy of Wolves has quickly proven to not be the ideal dinner guest, as what remains of “Fields” gets regurgitated in a spray of blood and puke.
The first real tangent takes shape around the first half of the fifth track, “Cobblestone & Smoke.” The band’s decision to use almost post-metal to re-set the poor table for the track’s virulent second half makes its baleful attack that much punchier. “Tar Covered” brings the earlier neggy-melody back in its second half, contextualizing “Crows Feet,” a noble departure in its own right which I’m not one hundred percent sold on.
The title track is decent, but I feel as though it wasn’t sure where it wanted to go. “Hell Followed” (how apropos!) is pretty much pure hate and is all the better for it. Its decent into oblivion is ironically the high point of the record. What caps things off, “The Blinding Dark,” is a very intriguing song that at once channels Neurosis, Godspeed!, and Killing the Dream.
I think unlike most bands who try to break with the expectations of their form, YOUWRETCH does have a clear vision. Though songs like “Sympathy of Wolves” and “Crows Feet” represent somewhat of a mid-album swoon that have the tendency to muck about, the majority of Sympathy of Wolves uses tempest and experimentation to off-set the other in their own way. Like I said, it won’t be a smooth ride, and you might lose the path, but in the end you’ll be glad you embarked on this journey.