In this decade that is rapidly coming to a close, Wolf Eyes along with Lightning Bolt have brought noise about as close as I can imagine it coming to a crossover. Both Burned Mind and Wonderful Rainbow found an audience that were a little apprehensive about Merzbow and Masonna but could handle the theatricality of Wolf Eyes’ horror movie antics or the dayglo apparel and high velocity thrash of Lightning Bolt. While Lightning Bolt has floundered somewhat since their now “modern classic” album, Wolf Eyes has changed line-ups and splintered into various sub-factions allowing its tentacles to stretch far and wide. With the numerous multi-format releases by Aaron Dilloway, Nate Young, Hair Police, Failing Lights, Spykes, Graveyards, Demons, Dead Machines and other offshoots it can be not only difficult to keep up but also to maintain some level of distinction between the works of each. While Wolf Eyes member Mike Connelly’s Hair Police has begun incorporating elements of black metal and psychedelic passages into its attack, Wolf Eyes has been busy since it 2006′s Human Animal by collaborating with Anthony Braxton and unleashing the by now usual slew of limited edition releases. It seems as if there could even be a contest between at least Wolf Eyes and Hair Police as to who can put out the best material. If Hair Police upped the ante with records like Blind Kingdom and Certainty of Swarms, then Wolf Eyes have answered back with one of this year’s finest in Always Wrong.
“Cellar” starts the album out by shedding the processed vocals that were integral to earlier Wolf Eyes releases in favor of a snotty, almost punk sounding snarl before letting the electronic waste and reeds tear everything asunder. This is Wolf Eyes in an even more ferocious mode than anything from Human Animal. At the other end of the album, the group creates a new kind of drift for themselves by incorporating a droning harmonica on “Droll/Cut The Dog” that wouldn’t sound out of place in an Ennio Morricone soundtrack except for the sinister ramblings that blanket the composition. The middle section is made up of more fleshed out versions of CD-R favorites like “Broken Order” and “Pretending Alive.” The latter of these was initially the title of this album and is one of the most ruined and desolate sounding things the group has done to date. Also of note is that Wolf Eyes have begun using an actual drum kit for the first time on this album. After all of the mangling done in production it sounds like anything but a normal set of drums. Gone are the low end thuds that made up the backbone of Burned Mind and Human Animal in place of a more visceral attack that is improbably clearer. If anything this may be the best “sounding” Wolf Eyes album yet.
The entirety of Always Wrong is over in under thirty minutes, making it easy to hit the repeat button. Honestly, brevity is severely underrated amongst the noise community. It’s nice to be able to breeze through a Wolf Eyes album driving to and from work as opposed to say the output of Burning Star Core or Merzbow which almost always requires the necessary hour or full 80 minutes of a CD to get all the way through and contains tracks that are as long as this album. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but it does render those albums nearly impossible to enjoy anywhere except at home with lots of time to kill.
If only Michigan could produce some commodity with the consistency of these guys. In the midst of economic ruin in their home state, Wolf Eyes seem to thrive on a subsistence of cheap beer and dank basements. Its music could easily be the sound of automobile scraps rotting away in some junkyard. As far as I’m concerned they can keep it coming as long as the music maintains this level of excellence they’ll always get my dollar.