Wolfredt is a post-rock band based in Tallinn, Estonia, that started as a one-man-bedroom-project, but has now grown into a four-piece post-rock/post-grunge outfit. Often described as melodic, emotional, loud and powerful post-rock, Wolfredt released their debut album Lullabies to Vilhelmine in 2013 under the guidance of creator Margus Voolpriit, the follow-up Neverno coming out in 2016. It was at this point, planning for their third album Tides, that Margus decided their musical direction involved extra melodies, dynamics and a broader soundscape, necessitating extra bodies to bring it to fruition. And so the current four-piece band Wolfredt was born….
Tides is indeed, as might be expected, created around the concept of following the eternal motion of life, the ebb and flow of lives and loves around us, the highs and lows of the endless circle of life, where past, present and future intermingle, influence each other and always repeat. Musically the band developed these concepts in quite lengthy guitar-based dynamic instrumental compositions incorporating melodic bass guitar lines, and heavy use of distortion and effects to create an eminently ambient sound, sometimes dark and sometimes grand.
Wolfredt have been compared to bands like Russian Circles, We Lost The Sea and Caspian, all quality post-rock bands blessed with the ability to drench you in a soundscape story. Tuned-in readers of this review might also appreciate there are many echoes of the British experimental post-rock ensemble Dawnwalker, reviewed and raved about in these pages and creators of one of my Top Ten albums for 2020. So comparisons of that nature begin to reflect the quality of musical compositions that Wolfredt have created here!
Musically the band work around atmospheric guitars, quietly pulsating electronics, a few sonic effects, and always interesting basslines and percussion to create an ambient-rock sound. Songs are developed as quite lengthy guitar-based dynamical instrumental pieces, melodic bass guitar lines, and heavy use of distortion and effects, sometimes dark, sometimes grand, always well-constructed.
The album opens with The Flood, and it’s a bit of a strange opening for the unwary! It starts as though Tides was another ultra-heavy doom album….it IS heavy, plodding, monochromatic, but not so “Sludge-y” as you might expect with that title! It’s a decent-enough track, but to me rather undersells what is to follow, which generally has a lot more light and shade to the rest of the album. I can see how as a concept a track called The Flood on an album called Tides is never going to be light-hearted – I’m just saying don’t judge this album on the strength of this one track!
Walrus Song is still heavy but with melody ringing in and around the basic riff. Lighter sections of guitar licks float around in a slightly distorted, haunted shape above the powerhouse rythmn with intriguing changes of pace and percussion kicking in around the halfway mark, taking the track off in another direction. Not sure about the Walrus though!
Colossus is then the first of a number of gentler, almost pastoral tracks, a simple slightly echoed melody revolving around your head with a nicely sharp piece of percussion underpinning. The melody builds very satisfyingly through guitar work that gets more and more meaty, then a great dual riff / hook / instrumental chorus sweeps you onwards and upwards to the conclusion. Quite a complex, technical composition, lots of loops going on, but the band are clearly good at this and thoroughly enjoying it, you can imagine this being an extended heavy metal jamming session when played live! Oh yes, the title apparently comes from it being written in…Rhodes!
Ghost In The Machine starts with a fair amount of “gentle discord” before another monochromatic riff chugs along. This one is all about rhythm and percussion, but with a weird jangling in the background before it all goes “clean” and a nice melody comes through the riff. This isnt post-rock, this is again a chunk of quite doomy heaviness. It never grinds you down like some other stuff though, it still retains a basic tune
The Forgotten Man.. I absolutely love this, it’s where soft, gentle pastoral arrangements meld with some pretty meaty riffs, again building around interesting changes of pace and percussion – and what sounds like a brass band for a while! It’s a very classy piece of composition and orchestration in the same way as the recent Ages album by Dawnwalker so deftly captures, and Tides is worth getting for this beautiful track alone.. Check out the video at the end.
Moebius Strip is another grower, particularly the way the drumming keeps you immersed in the melody. Another wonderfully light pastoral arrangement to start with, chiming guitars developing the tune, adding to it gradually, for me this is ambient post-rock at its very best! A percussive bridge section in the middle keeps you entranced and allows the melodic chords to return and develop into another almost orchestral conclusion.
The Ebb is an obvious title for the closing track, but apparently pre-dates the album being called Tides. Guitars again using odd tuning here to give a ‘boing-y’ timbre, over-laid with a bow being used to generate that swirling effect. Below that is a nicely twangy tune being picked out, drums and bass again building slowly and organically to create another wonderful swirling post-rock soundscape. It is a perfect album closer, even if it was written first. Just Beautiful!
Tides comes across as a classy, mature record laced with emotional communication through musicianship, an album that provides a great example of the instrumental post rock subgenre. Some of these songs are truly beautiful, and have that sense of great composition and orchestration that hold you rivetted for seven or eight minutes at a time. Well worth a listen!
Margus Voolpriit – guitar
Andres Soosaar – guitar
Pertti Johanson – bass
Kallervo Karu – drums