Beatdown hardcore is a growing trend in the worldwide hardcore scene, with bands like No Zodiac and Xibalba popping up in the US in the last 3 years. These bands have been competing to claim the title of ‘band most difficult to see live without sustaining facial injury’. However, they are once again outdone by the European hardcore scene who have produced bands such as Words Of Concrete, Providence, Circle of Death & Balboa, all coming from mainland Europe, whilst the UK came out with bands such as Cold Hard Truth and 50 Caliber of ‘LBU ‘fame. Now, if you happen not to know what ‘beatdown’ is and are reading purely out of interest or otherwise curiosity then please allow me to elaborate. In short, (hardcore) bands play riffs (typically at a slow pace) suitable entirely for moshing – this more often being your bog standard spin kicks or ‘crowdkill’. And though Wolfpack are no exception to this potentially deadly boring rule, they still manage to put a decent spin on a style that is becoming more and more packed with ‘stock’ bands that sound so very similar.
Hailing from Paris, Wolfpack immediately flip the impression that these are cheese eating surrender monkeys you’re listening to with their simplistic albeit effective intro entitled ’75 (D.E.S.)’ with the vocalist Hadrien’s half growl-half shout approach fitting in well with the rest of the band and the aggressive sound. He hits his stride in songs ‘This Night’ with some death growled sections & ‘Fuck Friends, Just Brothers’ as a nice contrast against the guest vocals provided by Pascal of Balboa & xLoicx of DCA. The lyrics fit well with the general negative theme of many beatdown bands but don’t particularly overdo this aspect, so it’s nice to see a unique aspect from this perspective. However a negative that lurks in the vocal department is the backing vocals that occasionally make appearances in specific verses such as in ‘Always In Doggystyle’. While it’s good to try a variation, I just can’t buy into them for a few reasons. Hadrien’s mid-range growls act suitably with the music, but these backing vocals feel out of place. The attempt at contrasting growls or barks with higher, screeching vocals sound more like they belong in black metal than hardcore. I can see what they were trying to do, with bands like Irate & Weekend Nachos having their vocals led by in a low-pitch style; then switching and experimenting with sections done with a higher vocal style for contrast. However it really just doesn’t work well at all here. Fortunately this is only a momentary fault.
Turning to the instrumentation, the guitarists Joris & William do their part to add variation to a style that inevitably isolates them to satisfying but not particularly technically proficient form. While their straight up beatdown intro may not immediately give the best impression, listening in on songs such as ‘This Night’, outside of the set ‘mosh’ riffsm they display their skill through the quick transitions they include. They allow shifts in mood to be very effective and often chaotic in nature. ‘Fuck Friends, Just Brothers’ makes this evident during the guest vocalists’ verses, with the two trading tremolo sections providing an interesting contrast. Things pick up to a fast-paced shred in ‘Always In Doggystyle’ which ultimately stands as the best guitar section on the EP. The drums are blasting away on this track as well. However, in totality the guitars ultimately do succumb to an excessive level of ‘beatdown’. This isn’t to say that what they do isn’t good, it’s just too predictable and often lasts for far too long. The beatdown & breakdown sections unfortunately act as verses rather than independent sections for moshing and so they become very droll at parts.
The drums also suffer from the same issue that the guitars do, surrendering to simplicity to suit the style. But this isn’t to say that Bibi the drummer completely gives up by any means. ‘This Night’ & ‘Screw This Life’ both display his ability to adapt and showcase his potential as a drummer. These songs utilize some excellently timed double bass blasts to accompany the rough guitar chugging. For the most part it’s a china cymbal & snare combo that lasts forever. Bibi too often limits himself in sections where he really could be more adventurous.
I’d be lying if I said that Wolfpack haven’t made a good effort and a solid start with their debut EP, but the lacking sections are wide open like wounds from a mosh pit. The only question now is whether or not anyone is around to patch them up and keep heading upwards with their style.