I used to think Finland must be the single coolest place in the world. Unsurprisingly, this view coincides with my discovery of symphonic metal music, which, for a long time, remained comfortably nestled in the frosty inspiration of that country. It wasn’t long before I crossed the threshold and met doom metal, which, would you believe it, also kept my attention rapt on Finland. 2 Wolves1 hail from Finland, and bring gothic-tinged doom metal to light in their fourth full-length, …Our Fault. Doom metal, gothic metal, Finnish metal, it all fits together. So, I ask myself, will this one live up to the lofty expectations I’ve concocted in my head?
Opener “Unwritten Names” sure does; right out of the gate, 2 Wolves delivers one of the strongest songs of their album. A thick wall of dark riffs rises around the listener, draped with symphonic elements that create a cold kind of grandeur, making you feel like you could take over the world (in a sinister way). “Unwritten Names” is cold, fast, and sets a strong tone for the rest of the album. Early in, Ilkka Valkonen begins singing, and he sounds incredible. His voice is deep and rich, but picks up a rough edge as he reaches the song’s memorable chorus. Soon after, he unleashes throaty shrieks that fit in just as well. Everything he does suits the music and mood perfectly, and the album is off to a really good start.
Were I to begin describing the follow up songs, “Strange Patterns” and “Of Storm and Stars,” I would actually use rather similar descriptions. Most of …Our Fault falls in the category of mid-paced, riff-heavy doom. Guitar leads are infrequent, but welcome, and solos are rare. Occasionally, a few piano lines emerge from the gloom, and the acoustic guitar is a common companion throughout. Two acoustic interludes, “Regret” and “Blame,” help to manage the pace of the album, and both are satisfying breaks from the wall of chugging that acts as the usual backdrop. The sound that makes up …Our Fault reminds me of Hope-era Swallow the Sun, albeit with a modern polish and a stronger production (even if the bass and drums are pushed a little too far back for my liking). I’m a fan of the keys and the riffing both, and the vocals are great, balancing passionate cleans with powerful roars and evocative shrieks. The versatility of Valkonen’s vocal style is another strong point for …Our Fault and 2 Wolves as a whole.
So there’s a lot to like about …Our Fault, but I’ve found myself unable to really connect with most of it. Like I mentioned earlier, the “mid-paced, riff heavy doom” aspect of their sound is constant, and some of the songs unfortunately lack memorability, bleeding into their surrounding numbers. Songs like “Dreaming Beneath” and “The Fault Is Ours” are stunning in the talent and emotional resonance they summon with seeming ease, but so much of the album falls just short of this standard. “Tuhat Kertaa” is the token Finnish-language piece that never really lands, while “Strange Patterns” becomes lost in its surroundings. Even at a reasonably concise forty-minute runtime, …Our Fault feels just a bit too long, and too much of the album simply doesn’t linger past the time spent listening to it.
After I’d listened to the complete album a few times, I started to listen to individual songs from …Our Fault, often at random, whenever I was having a rough day. In doing this, I’ve come to realize that 2 Wolves is a very talented group with the skill needed to forge evocative, dark, and affecting music that does a whole lot of what I look for in my music. As an album, …Our Fault doesn’t quite work. But that doesn’t mean you should sleep on this one either. These are good songs for a gloomy day, and I expect to be revisiting them for exactly such an occasion as the year continues.