Wolf Eyes: I am a Problem; Mind in Pieces Review

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Wolf Eyes: <i>I am a Problem; Mind in Pieces</i> Review

There’s still an utter disdain for normalcy propelling Wolf Eyes’ latest disc, I am a Problem; Mind in Pieces, its first for Jack White’s Third Man Records imprint.

And despite the squalid fervor that juts out in contrast to “Catching the Rich Train,” the surprisingly sedate opener, the trio is still working to arrange its raft of influences in some way that makes sense to its members.

“Enemy Ladder” intimates skate-punk childhoods, with the song’s plodding beat shifting into something akin to a proper hardcore breakdown. The approach tangles up the group’s clear affection for other aggressive music, something that efforts like 2003’s Mugger struggled with. Sure, it’s all a noisenik’s fantasy, but that album—as well as countless others in Wolf Eyes’ endlessly expansive universe—not only looked like a release from some metal band, portions of it could favorably be contrasted with facets of black metal’s most fetid features.

Snatches of minimalistic melody, though, push pieces of at least a few of the six tracks on I am a Problem. “Twister Nightfall” pulses with a reductive, krauty lead as lyrics about a pounding headache ooze from the miasma. It’s just barely audible and lasts for a few seconds, but an almost totally unfettered rock-guitar solo shoots through the fuzz during the composition’s closing seconds.

While the group’s not really an electronic ensemble—it’s virtually impossible to slot Wolf Eyes into any category—it’s been able to take a wide berth, avoiding the ’80s-styled sheen that’s enveloped some of the knob-twiddling set.

Of course, codifying any of its tendencies would relegate Wolf Eyes to meaninglessness. And while it’s arguable that working in this sub-underground fold has pretty limited possibilities, hooking up with Third Man about a decade after issuing a disc on Sub Pop might indicate immortality for an ensemble that could have just decided to fleece the noise genre’s fast-decaying corpse.