Cold Light Of Monday, my favorite album by Wolverine, one of Sweden's best rock bands is, to me at least, a progressive rock more than metal album of incredible structures and textures. All of the beauty enclosed and the complexity of this work makes its music truly unique and apparently missed by many who would greatly enjoy this elaborate and super progressive substance. As I listen to this album I get blown away and further my research of the Swedish rock territory of metal peripheries to see what else I might have been missing. There are definitely metal moments here but they are so rare. This album is almost an exact opposite of an average Opeth album, where metal mainstream gets interrupted by occasional melodic and acoustic elements. This feels much more like Porcupine Tree's latest album The Incident where random metal riffs here and there add texture to remind us of how important it has been to Steven Wilson to retain a complete freedom of self-expression. Wolverine combines some metal heaviness, great harder rock melodies with beautiful ballads of perhaps a metal-like sadness and with incredible ambient-sombient or right out experimental hinging on modern classical layers and blends all of the above with incredible skill and talent.
The beginning three songs of this album (Dawn, Sarah, New Best Friends) really feel to me like one amazing song divided for some strange reason. It is so complex and unique that I would be quite content with paying the price of this album for only that 13 minutes of music. Actually, I have been playing the beginning 28 seconds of New Best Friends on repeat for a few minutes thinking that listening to that loop for a few hours would be amazing. It sounds like some great ambient moment from one the most interesting ECM albums. I guess my favorite songs of Cold Light Of Monday are the most complex ones, New Best Friends full of varying time signatures and dynamics and including a beautiful guitar solo and subtle vocal harmony and Tied With Sin with its underlying Ultravox-like melody, metal part, Pink Floyd-like middle section and amazing overall originality which right away lifts the status of this band in my eyes. I truly love Trust, a gorgeous ballad but I am also very attracted to most experimental (for many probably just fillers) sections, which are perfectly executed. I really feel like I can voice an opinion because I spend so much time listening to modern classical and ambient music and songs like Tightrope could have easily came out of one of the Zoviet France or Rapoon cds and Red Canvas would not feel out of place on even some of Gavin Bryars' albums, who better than anyone obscures the lines between ambient and modern classical fields. These atmospheric songs have the power of taking us into the drug induced territories of the story line.
Conceptually and lyrically Cold Light Of Monday tells the story of a young girl's `growing distrust wrapped in despair and raped emotions', breaking down, losing faith, getting hooked on drugs, growing apart, paying the price, and consequent redemption through the understanding that she has to rely on herself in life. It is a beautifully developed concept on par with Porcupine Tree's Fear Of A Blank Planet or Sylvan's Posthumous Silence. Musically, these guys are world class and Stefan Zell is an amazing vocalist and he is being supported here by four other additional and background vocalists. The sound and production of this album are incredible as well with acoustic or ambient sound layers often brought to the forefront and adding to the overall mood.
My first exposure to Wolverine came very recently, first through their album, Still. I would classify it as a mixture of progressive rock majority and metal minority as opposed to their much more progressive metal The Window Purpose album, which will appeal many metal fans. It may end up being a little too soft for them, because even that album is much mellower from most of Opeth, for instance. Still sounds as it could have been produced by Steven Wilson. Although the music is less progressive the overall musical feel of the album places it in the Fear Of A Blank Planet territory for me. There is this prevailing harder rock sound on it mixed in with the acoustic guitar riff which I like a lot. There is also plenty of melodic beauty and emotional content loaded into that hard rock envelope. My favorite songs of Still is an amazing final song And She Slowly Dies, a gorgeous power ballad Taste Of Sand and following it a very mellow Nothing More. About a week ago while reviewing the latest Pain Of Salvation album I claimed that I don't listen to metal. After spending some time with Wolverine I have to say that our Swedish musicians are slowly changing my listening habits because they are able to create so much melodic beauty on these metal peripheries that they will keep me around. Again, I would call The Window Purpose (2001) the most progressive metal of them all and personally I like it less. There is a beautiful ballad Post Line on it and the entire album is very strong as well. I like Still (2006) much more but to me personally this album Cold Light Of Monday (2003) is their work of art. I am used to many various kinds of complex music forms but I have to admit that I remain blown away by the spectrum of textures brought upon us and the atmosphere created by such creative approach to song writing. However, this is their cutting edge state of the art experimental work, not for everyone.