The Wolf - Switchboard Marion

Artist: Switchboard Marion

Album: The Wolf

Genre: Prog-rock

I'll be honest, as a huge Chevelle fan, I was a mixture of curious and apprehensive when I saw an EP from a band who are described as a mixture of Chevelle, Tool and a little bit of Mastodon. So many have tried to replicate the sound and success of these three legendary bands, and so many have failed, so I was almost expecting a bit of a monstrosity with this. But boy, was I wrong.

Switchboard Marion, a rock band from the US, have certainly released a very promising debut with The Wolf. The three track EP has an interesting lyrical theme, centering around serial killers. Creating a concept release with so few tracks could be risky for some, but I think they've really pulled it off with this. The tracks are long enough that they can really play around musically and lyrically, but aren't so long that they get a bit lost.

The release kicks off strong with title track 'The Wolf'. It's brooding, it's dark, and it's intoxicating. The deep and moody vocals are a nice contrast with the guitar, both carrying melodies that work well together, and intertwine, complimenting and simultaneously contrasting. The chorus is catchy, the drums are strong and consistent, driving the track along, and the guitars solos flow nicely. The song does falter slightly at about the 3:15 minute mark, not because it's bad, but it doesn't sound as strong and effortless as the rest of the song does. It's probably the only part that doesn't hold up well against the rest of the release.

'Little Red Hollywood' comes next, and carries much the same sound as 'The Wolf'. Again, the guitar and the vocals work well together, at times flowing as one solid unit, and at others carrying such strikingly different melodies, while still working well. The song takes a bit of a sinister tone (I know, a song about serial killers being sinister? No way) with the lyrics 'please God let me live, I'll do anything' which does give you a bit of a chill - in a good way. It's a good song, at times dipping down to just vocals and light accompaniment, and at others times building up to create that drama and power that prog rock is known for. It's not as strong as the other two tracks, but it's still a catchy song.

Final track 'Death Row Peep Show' is the track that really shows me musically why they draw comparisons to Tool. It's also the track that, lyrically, is the most obviously about a serial killer. It chugs along with a driving rhythm, the guitars pushing the song along as the vocals move at their own pace. At nearly 5 minutes long, the band know to keep the listeners attention by constantly changing, their various melodies flowing, bringing the energy up and down, ensuring that the entire song remains interesting from beginning to end. It's probably my favourite track out of the three.

The Wolf is a very strong, promising start from the band. If this had been their second or third release, it would've been impressive, so the fact that it's their first makes it even better. Yes, there are some moments where it does fall down slightly, but it's in general a really strong, consistent and interesting EP. If you're on the look out for a strong rock album, you should definitely check out these guys as I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot more of them in the future.

8 out of 10 stars.

The Wolf is out now on Spotify, iTunes, soundcloud and bandcamp.

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