Review: Alpha Wolf – Half Living Things

Alpha Wolf have been on the metalcore scene for a decade now, fast becoming both a cult favourite among peers, as well as a best-kept secret. With every release they put out and every tour they complete, the Australian quintet rightfully gets more and more attention, and it now seems that the tide has shifted from them being an underground band to being the leader of the pack (pun intended.) With 800k+ monthly listeners and millions of streams on Spotify alone, they are a force that simply cannot be stopped, and on their 3rd album Half Living Things, they boldly present the facts as to why that is.

The band kicks things off with its album opener (and lead single) Bring Back the Noise, which wastes no time in introducing Alpha Wolf at their finest – showcasing both a heavy backbone with an old-school spine, it already sounds like a record for fans of both today’s ever-expanding metalcore genre, and also fans of the classic 90s/00s nu metal scene, thanks to the sick record scratches heard in the mix. It’s a quick 2-minute track that serves its purpose well and leaves a mark, before then leading into Double Edge Demise, which has all the components for a perfect metal track – the screams are ghastly and raw, the breakdown is groovy, and the guitars in the outro sound flat out demonic. The hook of “Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, tick BOOM” is brilliant as well, as is the crushing “I’m gonna make you hate me” line before the breakdown slams through.

A very welcome surprise came in the form of Sucks 2 Suck, the album’s second single, as it features a collaboration from none other than Ice-T of Body Count. It’s a track that has an insatiable groove, one that will get everybody bopping along to its rhythm and hyped up with Ice’s breakdown, where he proclaims “This is Alpha Wolf, motherfucker/You wanna die?/Ice-T, run amok/Count your teeth, pick ’em up!” It’s mad to think that Ice-T was once an electro-rap artist, compering on the 1984 film Breakin’ and now he’s absolutely throwing it down on hardcore tracks! Further down the line, there’s A Terrible Day for Rain, which currently stands as my favourite song on the album, with probably the heaviest and most evil-sounding riff on the whole record too. The breakdown musically felt like it threw me headfirst through a window, taking me by total surprise, as the section was heavily bass boosted, to the point where surely any speaker would explode and any pair of headphones would just pack it all in and give up – an unexpected but completely welcomed moment.

Lyrically, Half Living Things has some very memorable and short but sweet hooks. Take the track Feign for example, whereby the intro loudly proclaims “Revenge best served ice cold/Drown if you sink, burn if you float” before the track kicks in. Later on in the chorus, vocalist Lochie makes it clear to the listener that “You couldn’t hate me more than I used to” and then goes on to say “Woe is you” in its breakdown, almost as if to taunt the subject of the track for what they’ve done to him. And one of the coldest lyrics on the album comes from Pretty Boy, where he snarls “Sink into my neck/I’d spit in your face, but I know that you like that.”

It’s not all heavy and crushing 24/7 though, as the band throws quite a lot of calming/reverberated moments into the mix. In the album’s outro Ambivalence, for example, they blend both the calm and the storm together perfectly; at times having the two collide with each other, without it ever sounding odd or out of place. It’s also the one main song on the album that shines a spotlight on Lochie’s clean vocals, as is evident in its powerfully emotional chorus where he sings “Why don’t I feel like you? Why can’t I think like you?/I keep blaming myself until I meltdown” with raw emotion. The clean vocals mixed with his trademark gnarls, plus the help of some glitchy electronic synths and a delicate piano track in the background, create a song that sounds like a lost Linkin Park track from 2001!

It’s an incredibly resounding and impressive record by the Tasmanian group and one that will no doubt become a classic in the years to come. The immaculate blend of new and old helps create a unique styling that I haven’t heard in metalcore for a good while and, frankly, long may it continue!! Whether it’s your first time hearing of this band or your tenth, it will definitely not be the last that you’ll hear of them.

Review – Joe Richardson

Half Living Things is available now via Sharptone Records

Connect with Alpha Wolf HERE


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