I Am The Avalanche - Wolverines
Release Date: March 18, 2014
Record Label: I Surrender
After waiting over six years for I Am The Avalanche to follow up its debut album, it almost feels like listeners are being spoiled with a new IATA album less than three years after Avalanche United's release. And in my review of that record I mentioned that it was time for the rest of the pop-punk genre to get on Avalanche's level. Yet here we are in the spring of 2014 and it's I Am The Avalanche reaching and exceeding that level again with the pulverizing Wolverines.
LP3 is Avalanche's most tight-knit and explosive set of songs yet; Vinnie Caruana's lyrics showcasing a man and his band growing wiser with the years. It's immediately heard on opening track "Two Runaways." Paced by classic-rock riffs, its romantic undertones is anchored by an uplifting anthemic chorus. The soaring "177" is a riotous reminder of the IATA's punk fervor, while "The Shape I'm In" is an angry reality check as Caruana's recounts his back surgery and the physical and emotional pain he went through (I do my best to live with the pain).
Clocking in at just a hair over a half hour, Wolverines unleashes some of I Am The Avalanche's best work yet. Caruana turns in the best vocal performance of his career and "Young Kerouacs" is the biggest example of this. The song has a hook that stretches for miles as Caruana's gravely tone fits seamlessly with Brandon Swanson's guitar melodies. "Anna Lee" is quite the ear worm and undoubtedly will become an IATA live staple - emotions will stir when Caruana soberly yells, Nothing can bring you back.
The band's hardcore ideals of camaraderie, overcoming obstacles, and positivity come through in songs like "Save Your Name," "My Lion Heart," and the title track - these mid-tempo fist-pumpers are driven by thick guitar chords and present a band at the top of its game. Once again produced by drummer Brett "The Ratt" Romnes, Wolverines is one of the best-sounding punk rock records you'll hear - everything sounds slick but not to the point where it sounds processed and undermines its overall grittiness. There's no denying Wolverines heart and honesty, which is best exemplified on closer "One Last Time." It's another instance of I Am The Avalanche's do-or-die attitude as Caruana pushes the issue (If this is the last day of my life/I need to see you one last time) over John Oliva's buoyant bass line.
The band stated that Wolverines is their "most well thought-out and least rushed album" yet and it shows. There's no filler - each track is a choice-cut, so good luck picking out your favorite track (it changes daily for this reviewer). Just like the three-eyed beast that graces the cover, Wolverines is a mean and lean punk rock record that sets the bar once again.
This may sound really weird but I agree and also disagree with the score. It doesn't feel like an 8.8/10 album but I wouldn't give it a lower score.
Edit: Expanding my point; This album is probably the worst out of the 3 albums released under the IAtA name. In saying that, I don't think it's necessarily a bad album I just like the Self titled and United a whole lot more than this. All the songs bleed into a 30 minute blur and nothing really stands out.
This was one of my most anticipated for 2014. The first few tracks blew my mind. Upon my first listen, I felt a little letdown by a couple tracks. BUT, as I pounded this record into my head, again and again, the songs really started to sink in and hit me harder. In the grand scheme, I think this is better than AU; and that is saying something, as that album is near perfection.