WOLVERINE – Machina Viva (2016)
Celebrating their 20 years of existence, Swedish act WOLVERINE find themselves on Sensory Records for their sixth release “Machina Viva“. The group started out as an extreme metal band in their early years, before quickly switching to a much more melodic progressive sound.
Forward 2016 the band is in full out prog mode, leaning more towards a rock sound than metal, with a large focus on mood, texture, atmosphere and emotional vocals / lyrics, evolving even further incorporating some electronic elements resulting in another outstanding album.
With its mix of brooding riffs, soaring vocals, catchy hooks, and dreamy keyboard soundscapes, “Machina Viva” has something for everyone.
Unlike many prog bands, Wolverine’s music is not about being flashy, not in the least. Their musicianship is certainly great, with each member being given space to showcase their talents, but the band frequently demonstrates the ability to tone it down and use a minimal amount of sounds, with more of a focus on strong melodies.
Everything here feels very well thought out, with the band using only the sounds they think will work best for each section, instead of throwing in everything they possibly can and seeing how it works out, like some prog bands can be known to do.
An essential part of Wolverine’s sound is without a doubt vocalist Stefan Zell. As always, he has a very smooth delivery, and he really excels at being emotive while still allowing the melodies to fully shine through. Of all the elements on this album, Stefan’s vocals may be the most important, and on every track he does an outstanding job.
The band kicks off Machina Viva with the epic ‘The Bedlam Overture’, with lovely synth melodies and alluring rhythms drifting along, the occasional heavy riff, guitar & bass solo punctuating what is otherwise a dreamy yet dramatic track highlighted by Zell’s incredible vocals.
‘Machina’ follows, a lush slice of melodic prog with layers of vocals and keyboard orchestrations, while ‘Pile of Ash’ takes on more of a pop ballad route, another great vehicle for Zell’s commanding vocal talents.
Plenty of catchy hooks and symphonic arrangements to be found on ‘Our Last Goodbye’, and it’s not until ‘Pledge’ that the band dives back into more metallic realms, this one a dark, moody rocker filled with crunchy riffs, grandiose keys, and once again Zell’s soaring vocals.
‘Nemesis’ also hits hard & heavy in spots, a dense hard-prog rocker with some fantastic lead guitar, bass, and synth solos to go along with vibrant arrangements.
‘Sheds’ closes out the album on a tranquil, emotional note, with Zell’s heartfelt vocal supported by sumptuous organ & synths, allowing the listener to drift off into the heavens pondering this highly textured, layered, and colorful album.
That actually really sums up “Machina Viva” quite perfectly; this is an album of many layers, many tones, many colors, and many textures, generally moody but bright in spots, and always dripping with emotion.
Wolverine definitely offer a different take on progressive music, but as always it’s a refreshing one and “Machina Viva” is another winner from them.
01. The Bedlam Overture
03. Pile Of Ash
04. Our Last Goodbye
06. When The Night Comes
Stefan Zell – Vocals
Jonas Jonsson – Guitars
Thomas Jansson – Bass
Per Henriksson – Keyboards
Marcus Losbjer – Drums
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