Seattle, Washington, while famous for grunge, has long been a hotbed for all sorts of music, and many forms of punk rock and hardcore. I witnessed this firsthand, as I spent my ‘formative years’ ( mid-20s-early 30s) in the ‘Emerald City’, and witnessed all sorts of strains of punk rock, from the garage rock/punk of the U-Men, to the pop punk stylings of The Fastbacks, to the Detroit-style-plus-organ proffered by The Murder City Devils, to the motor-oil –stained Motörhead punk of Zeke, and many, many more, the city has a long history of exploring all forms of punk rock, but shot through the unique lens of the Pacific Northwest.
Land Of Wolves, a hardcore band (full disclosure: I’ve known drummer Cody Black for over 20 years, and I’ve previously provide some artwork for the band, but I don’t think this prevents me from writing an unbiased review) have made a name for themselves around the Pacific Northwest, playing shows, and releasing a slew of 7”’s as well as appearing on various punk rock compilations, have now dropped their debut record, Conditions For Survival.
Land Of Wolves describes their sound as ‘In your face east coast style hardcore rock and roll with some punk oi and metal influence’, and fair enough, I get that vibe with songs like Bitter Bastard (upon my first spin I thought I heard ‘Freedom Basket’!!), the chugging, riffing Feels Like The Truth, and Recession Proof complete with a chorus that states ‘I was recession proof, a working-class stiff, man of the people’ and a bridge that recalls early Agnostic Front.
However, musically, and certainly with guitarist/vocalist Brian Fernandes riffing, I also hear an early, crossover-thrash vibe in places, with the Animosity-era C.O.C. riff and chug of Plague City, and the chug and breakdown of Carry The Weight. Late-record-ripper Brain Zap also recalls early C.O.C., as well, I hear hints of Cryptic Slaughter, and even early D.R.I. throughout.
an old-school hardcore attack with hints of aggressive early crossover-thrash…
I enjoyed the political-bent in some of the lyrics, especially on the second track, and a favorite of mine Smash The State which boasts immortal lines like ‘I still wanna smash the state, punch you in your stupid fascist face’ as well as Fernandes blazing punk rock guitar playing. Elsewhere, Black holds it down behind the kit, bashing away, as the seasoned punk-rock-drumming veteran he is.
The tag-team vocals between Fernandes and vocalist Joel (no last name provided) while different than a lot of bands of this ilk, were slightly distracting to me as I was absorbing this, and at times, found myself wanting one or the other to take the lead. I was cool with the shout-along chorus action, but the go-between on the verses between vocalists took some getting used to.
Conditions For Survival is a solid debut from Land Of Wolves, the band opting for an old-school hardcore attack with hints of aggressive early crossover-thrash served up well with Fernandes’s riffing, and overall playing. It’s refreshing hearing bands go old-school, as opposed to leaning into the ever-popular metalcore route. If you’re in the mood for some old-school, American, hardcore, with some early-crossover-chug, then Land Of Wolves Condition For Survival will certainly scratch that itch.
Scribed by: Martin Williams