Old rona may be hanging around like a party guest who’s overstayed their welcome, but …
Tassie born metalcore act Alpha Wolf have come a long way in a short time.
MORE: KICK OUT THE JAMS with IN HEARTS WAKE // PRIVATE FUNCTION: It’s Always Their Line REVIEWS: ALPHA WOLF: a quiet place to die // MARILYN MANSON: We Are Chaos // NOFX/FRANK TURNER: West Coast Vs. Wessex // IN HEARTS WAKE: Kaliyuga // PRIVATE FUNCTION: Whose Line Is It Anyway? // AGNES MANNERS: Fantasia Famish // MOVEMENTS: No Good Left To Give
Since the release of their 2017 debut album Mono, they’ve amassed an impressive international following and are quick becoming household names. Now fresh from the release of their second full-length LP a quiet place to die, it’s clear that Alpha Wolf have a bright future ahead of them. According to guitarist and founding member Sabian Lynch, this latest release is the band’s strongest work yet.
“I think it absolutely smashes the first album out of the park,” Sabian says. “Only being because, we were still in rough stages of learning ourselves for the first album, we didn’t really know how well we could piece together a full album at that time. So, we just did what we could and winged it basically. And luckily for us, people enjoyed it. But I feel like we’ve found all of our strengths and put them together to build this new album.”
While a quiet place to die is a much more structured album from the band, the songs on the record still come from the heart. Alpha Wolf are just people, and this new album touches on many things that the band have had to deal with in their lives.
“I guess we started to talk about it, touch on it on the last album, basically just being honest with ourselves and in our song writing lyrically. Any themes that represent what we’re going through in the current times. [Mono] was more so about loss and grief. This album now is more so angry, as we’re just going through normal shit like everyone else, and we just touched on anything that was relevant to us at the time.”
Another way that a quiet place to die differs from their debut Mono is the band’s shift to a more nu-metalcore approach, in the vein of their 2019 EP Fault–the first release from the band featuring new vocalist Lochie Keogh and drummer Mitch Fogarty.
“I feel as though, I guess, it’s just a sound that we enjoy. We have plenty of different influences spanning across all the members. So typically, I think we all love nu-metal and we’ll incorporate that as much as possible, because it’s a sound that we enjoy. But we also love being really heavy, we also love being melodic. I guess we’re never going to hold anything back. If we think it sounds cool, we’ll do it.”
While line-up changes can often throw a spanner into the works for a young band’s sound, according to Lynch, Alpha Wolf’s new additions didn’t hold the band back one bit.
“How it’s come to be now, we’re the strongest we’ve ever been. And having Lochie as our frontman, he was originally meant to be our vocalist after John [Arnold, Alpha Wolf’s bassist] stepped down, but he turned down the offer way back when. And we finally got him on board, and he’s been our best mate for a long time, he was on tours with us selling merch and stuff like that before he joined the band. So, we’re way more comfortable as a band now all being best friends,” he says.
As is the case with any band after a change in their sound, there will always be a few die-hard Alpha Wolf fans that’ll always miss the old sound; but Lynch isn’t worried about them.
“I think we somehow snuck [sic] out of that pocket better than most bands that cop that sort of stuff. There’s obviously fans of the old sound, but we perform the old songs so much better live now than we ever did. The old vocalist [Aidan Ellaz, ejected from the band in 2018] could not perform live whatsoever. He was atrocious. So, we’re a lot stronger live now, and the song writing is so much better.
So typically, I think we all love nu metal and we’ll incorporate that as much as possible, because it’s a sound that we enjoy. But we also love being really heavy, we also love being melodic. I guess we’re never going to hold anything back. If we think it sounds cool, we’ll do it.
[ Sabian Lynch ]
“I think we’re just gaining tens and hundreds of thousands more fans now than we ever did. But, you know, there’s obviously going to be that little cult of 10 people that are gonna be dickheads online whenever we post something, but we’ve got no time for them.”
Listeners don’t have to think too far back for what the ‘old Alpha Wolf’ sounded like. While the band have made a shift in their sound on a quiet place to die and Fault, their rise to popularity was a fairly quick one–which came with its ups and downs for Lynch.
“I guess it happened a lot quicker than we expected. I was a bit bummed actually, we missed out on the entire stage that most local bands have of getting to open for all the international touring bands that come down. We kind of just surpassed that too quickly and our booking agents didn’t want us opening these international shows, cause they thought our fan base was too big or, you know, we’ll just wait and do a full tour and stuff like that.
“So, I was a bit bummed that we missed out on a couple of those smaller opportunities, but, you know, I’m very excited and happy with where we are and the status that we’ve gotten now.”
Of course, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages in the band’s success, seeing some of the major tours they’ve been on. Sabian can barely believe it himself.
“I wrote down a bunch of goals at the start of the Fault song writing process, and I think the first two were tour internationally as one goal and tour with Emmure as a second goal. Our first international tour happened to be with the Emmure. So, I didn’t know what to do with myself after that.”
Most up-and-coming bands are no doubt looking for the same kind of success. For those bands trying to find their own ‘big break’, Lynch has some wise advice.
“Take yourself a lot more, I don’t want to say serious, like have fun, but, you know, we do a lot of hard work behind the scenes, myself and Scotty [Alpha Wolf’s guitarist Scottie Simpson] have our nose in literally everything that the band does. And I’m constantly thinking of what I can do tomorrow or today for the band, whether it’s some promo or something along those lines, you need to put in hard work from the get-go.
“And I’ve been doing hard work for a long time now, to get us to where we are. Even when we were playing to two people, I was still hustling as much as I could. But have fun, post a lot of content, take a lot of photos of your band so you can post more content. And just be original.”
Regardless of what it took for them to get here, a quiet place to die is no doubt a triumph for the Aussie metalcore act. Boasting a much more aggressive and polished sound than previous releases, it’s a record that is sure to have a big impact on the band’s future.
“Personally, I think it’s going to be a very strong release for us. People that have heard the full album all have a different favourite song, which I think is a really good suit to have. You don’t just want one standout song; you want every song to be able to be someone’s favourite song. So, I feel like we’re going to get a lot of longevity out of touring it, considering there’s 11 new songs for our live performance. I just think it stands up against a lot of the music that people digest these days.
“I still feel as though we’re writing songs for ourselves that we enjoy listening to. Like, I’ve listened to the album front to back a lot, and for me personally it’s a great listening experience. So, I guess ultimately, we want to write music that we ourselves will want to listen to, whether it’s at home or in a live setting.”
As far as what he wants listeners to take away from the new album, Lynch just hopes it’ll mean as much to the fans as it means to him and the rest of Alpha Wolf.
“I hope everyone enjoys it as much as we did, and we do, because that album’s been on repeat for me for the past, you know, eight months. If I can’t find anything to listen to, I’ll put on our album, because I enjoy it that much. So, I hope people can find that same enjoyment from it.
“And to take away from it, I just hope, the same thing, you have a bit of fun. It’s a heavy record. So, we hope that any heavy listeners will enjoy it, and they’ll add it to their regular rotation.”