SoundCheck: Swamp Wolf’s The Brilliance of a Feral Mind
by Daniel Daw
Flagstaff locals, Swamp Wolf, broke out a debut album, The Brilliance of a Feral Mind, after their demo was released in 2011. The band as a whole is a powerhouse of sound between Daniel Toberg and Kevin Pennick’s guitars, Chris Weeteling rocking the bass, Nate Edenhofer on the drums and finally, “Dirty” Steve Raufman on vocals.
Title track, “The Brilliance of a Feral Mind,” opens with what is commonly called noise rock. While I can’t say I’m a fan of the specific genre type, the track does pick up into a more traditional metal/hardcore style. The track showcases the intensity of the guitars mixed with Raufman’s vocals — they tend to get overpowered by the rest of the band. Overall, the song is a strong opening track despite the beginning.
“The Shame” opens with a more solemn guitar line, which is a departure from the rest of the album’s heart-racing, fast-paced style. Later on, the rest of the band comes in, creating a nice moment. This would be one of my favorite tracks on the album; however, the beginning section is interrupted by screams that don’t fit in, sounding awkward or even comical at times. About halfway in, the song breaks into the more familiar style of what I have come to expect from this group.
One thing I did notice about this album was the amazing song connectivity from track to track. It’s almost as if each track is one movement in a much larger piece, as opposed to some albums wherein each track has a definite beginning and end. On my first listen, I thought the intro to “Dire Times” was the outro to “The Shame.” The seamless transitions on this album are a major plus.
“Some People’s Children” has a nice balance of sound, opening with Edenhofer’s drums paired with the bass for a nice little drum feature. This is another track where the vocals are not overpowered by the rest of the group. Around the song’s midpoint, a nice interlude of calm melodic guitar creates a nice contrast from the first half.
Another aspect of this album worth mentioning: Most of the songs are pretty short, not a single one goes over the four-minute mark. A couple of tracks are only a little over a minute long. In some instances, it would be nice to hear the ideas fleshed out in more detail, especially on more dynamic tracks, such as “The Shame” and “Some People’s Children.”
Closing track, “The Foundation of Guilt” maintains the overall powerful but hectic musical style we hear throughout this album. It’s a strong track to end on.
As a whole, Swamp Wolf’s debut album is a tour de force of music and leaves the listener wondering what the band will produce in the future.
Best Tracks: “Some People’s Children” and “The Foundation of Guilt”