It took me a long time to find something to say about this release. My immediate thoughts were filled with keywords like “bland” or “Jawbreaker-esque” and eventually I was circling around the nail-in-the-coffin phrase “forgettable.” But perhaps I was a little too hasty to throw negative adjectives around so freely. After listening to Wolves At Bay’s “The Night A Forest Grew” EP about a dozen more times, a new buzz word was gaining momentum: “grower.” And I think that’s the one I’ll stick with. Wolves At Bay is not a bad band, and “The Night A Forest Grew” is nowhere near a bad release. But it’s not a great one either, and it requires some patience to fully appreciate it.
“Strangers in My Basement” opens the EP with the messy sounding fuzz of Jawbreaker-esque guitars, a comparison that’s a little too easy to make, yet accurate. At first, it was hard for me to take anything from this release. But by the fourth or fifth time through, the hooks started to reveal themselves. The song “Fought This Through” is one of the catchiest of the three and contains some loud/soft dynamics that keep it interesting. And the final track, “Anything At All” brings forward more clean guitar work to offset the driving distortion of the other two tracks without leaving the latter sound unrepresented. The duel vocals are undoubtedly my favorite part of this song, and it’s a shame we don’t get to hear the musical advantages of the two vocalists more often. When it is done, it’s done very well and adds a lot of sonic depth.
The Night A Forest Grew is a good release. Not a great one. But it did leave me with the feeling that Wolves At Bay could be a great band. The songs are catchy, the instrumentation is strong, and the production is unnoticeable, which in my book means it did its job. But not once does this EP grab me in a tell-all-of-my-friends-immediately way. If someone asked me what I thought of Wolves At Bay I’d shrug and say they were pretty good. And then I’d probably make a Jawbreaker comparison. And perhaps in that there is a truth. When all that can be said of a band is who they’re influenced by, there’s a problem. That being said; everything they did on this album they did well. I just kind of wished they did something else.