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Anthems of Atonement
Posted June 16, 2014
By MaryNikkel_NRT, Staff Reviewer

Solid State signees Wolves At the Gate gained a following with the release of their impressive 2012 debut Captors. After honing their formidable sound with two years on the road, they're back with heavy-hitting sophomore album VxV (pronounced "Five by Five").

This album carries the carefully crafted blend of clean vocals and visceral screams that puts the band in the same playing field as heavyweights like Oh, Sleeper and Memphis Mayfire, with consistently brutal drum lines reminiscent of For Today and searing, scorching guitar tones straying into territory mapped out by bands like Showbread. Though the musical ground has been covered before, Wolves At the Gate definitely forcefully stakes their own claim in the heavy music world. First full track "Wake Up" crashes in with a chaotic vocal shove fitting for lyrics forming a call to action, demanding faithful believers speak about the truth. "Return" is another song shaping marching orders, serving almost as an apologetic for the presence of God.

There is an urgency throughout this album, a heaviness in the lyrical themes driven home by the blistering screams and steady thud of the fast paced metal-style drumming. "Wild Heart" and "The Convicted" both desperately declare the depravity of the human heart, yearning for rescue from itself. "The Bird and the Snake" is a parable-style story in which the snake represents Satan, eating a helpless bird feather by feather.

Perhaps the most lasting theme however is that of atonement. The album could be seen as building a kind of conversation between desperate hearts and their Healer (as voiced in "Relief" and "Rest"). "Majesty in Misery" uses a suitably violent musical slant to talk about Christ taking the wrath directed at humanity on Himself. "The Father's Bargain" is an often chilling 6 minute epic outlining a conversation between the Father and His Son Jesus, a conversation in which the Father makes the cost of freedom for the world clear-- and Jesus chooses to pay the price for the sake of love.

Closing Thoughts:
VxV is theologically dense and gospel-centric, emphasizing calls to repentance and redemption, frequently using strong scriptural imagery and voice overs to achieve an even stronger presentation. The music does not suffer at the hands of the message, however. Wolves At the Gate seems to have a knack for tailoring the sonic atmosphere of the moment to perfectly complement the lyric it accompanies. Although they don't coax anything particularly new from the style they write in, they do utilize the established conventions quite well. The album's strength lies in its urgency, setting scruples aside in favor of raw writing focused on our desperate need for a desperately loving Savior.

Song to Download Now:
"The Father's Bargain" (Get it on iTunes here.)

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