October 12, 2006

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Wolf Eyes, Human Animal
Sub Pop, 2006

I love reading critics’ reviews of Michigan-based noisemakers Wolf Eyes.

It’s not just that the few music critics who bother to review a Wolf Eyes record typically don’t like the band’s admittedly polarizing style of murky, electronic noise-rock, but that so many of the writers take the group (and themselves) way too seriously.

“I can’t imagine why anyone would want to listen to Burned Mind in the first place,” Cokemachineglow’s Matt Stephens wrote of the trio’s previous record in an online review which gave the record a whopping score of 9 percent. Well, Matt, I can’t imagine why anybody would want to listen to My Chemical Romance in the first place, but alas, people do. Another writer in Almost Cool refers to the band as “noise terrorists,” which doesn’t work as an insult since the band members would probably embrace such a label with glee.

That’s OK, though. Nate Young, John Olson and Mike Connelly of Wolf Eyes are not in the business of making friends — music reviewers or otherwise. What they are in the business of, however, is creating eerie, multi-layered soundscapes that scrape the skuzzy bottom of the barrel of the macabre. Bass guitars throb and pound away aimlessly; mixers squeal and howl with painfully high-pitched feedback; “Singer” Nate Young’s digitized voice snarls and bellows the indecipherable inanities of a Guantanamo Bay detainee who’s about to get “water-boarded.”

Yet there is a method to Human Animal’s carefully crafted chaos. Wolf Eyes revels in the dynamics of tension and release, serenity and shock; the calm and the Katrina. The music contained on Human Animal is twisted, bleak, frightening and decidedly devoid of any sort of instant gratification. Indeed, if Wolf Eyes are truly “noise terrorists” then consider me a fellow insurgent. A-

— Adam Marletta