REDWOLVES - Future Becomes Past (Album)
REDWOLVES are a four-piece Hard Rock band formed in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2012 and ‘Future Becomes Past’ is their first album, released back in March and follows their debut EP ‘Walking Roads’ from 2016.
They take their influence from the Classic Rock sound and add to it a variety of styles such as Prog Rock, Power Pop, Glam Rock, Psychedelia, NWOBHM and a little Stoner Rock. Rasmus Cundell has a quite a high, soaring voice that occasionally reminds me at times of Robert Plant, Steven Tyler and Geddy Lee.
As you can imagine that all makes for a sound that’s steeped in Seventies retro, there’s no denying that but, at the same time, ‘Future Becomes Past’ also sounds fresh and vibrant rather than dated or forced. REDWOLVES use those influences to mould their own style rather than trying to recreate what others have already done.
‘Future Becomes Past’ was intended to be a lot lighter in tone than it is but, unfortunately, Rasmus was the victim of an unspecified but brutal attack shortly before recording the album, the trauma of which understandably left him dealing with depression and anxiety as well as physical injuries. This is reflected in some of the lyrics and the recording of the album became something of a catharsis for him.
It’s split into two distinct halves, the first is catchy, shortish rocking songs and the second features longer, more introspective and thoughtful ones.
The opening track is ‘Plutocracy’ and it’s an uptempo, but also quite understated, track with a cool, choppy riff from Simon Stenbæk. It’s about how the average person is generally unwilling to get involved, how we just want to keep out noses clean, stay out of trouble and hope that tomorrow is pretty much the same as today. The super rich use that to their own advantage and subjugate us, keeping us docile and poor while they keep getting richer.
‘Rigid Generation’ follows a similar theme though it’s more about trying to change the minds of an older generation who don’t want their minds changed. It’s a lively, upbeat rocker with engaging verses and a big chorus that sees Rasmus wailing “We agree to disagree”. The tumultuous final 30 seconds or is fantastic, with both Rasmus and Simon letting rip.
Bursting straight in with a fairly heavy Stoner riff, ‘The Abyss’ already feels darker. Lyrically it deals with the dark cloud of depression and the temptation of suicide and it’s clearly one of the songs affected by Rasmus’ attack. It’s a solid, well-written track, both the relentless pounding riff, the thoughtful verses and the ominous chorus. There’s some occasional female backing vocals that add a bit of colour whenever they pop up too.
Following that is ‘Fenris’, at the time of writing, the current single, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a huge, bright, energetic song with Rasmus sounding incredible. The female vocals are more prevalent too, I’d like to know who’s singing but Google has so far failed me. They really enhance the song and it’s the highlight of ‘Future Becomes Past’. Unsurprisingly, it’s not quite so bouncy and upbeat lyrically, with ‘Fenris’ being the wolf that sets in motion the end of the world and the song seemingly about heading down a road of self-destruction.
So that was the first half and the first track of the second half is ‘The Pioneer’ and it starts so softly and quiet and it’s a sharp contract to the crashing end of ‘Fenris’. I very much appreciate the contrast. It gradually builds in intensity before kicking in around 6 minutes or so for a big finish. There’s a nice, subtle bass line from Nicholas that runs through the quieter sections that I like too.
The song seems to tell of a man waking up from hibernation in the future and heading out into the new world only to find all his love ones have long since died. I guess maybe it’s also supposed to be a metaphor for Rasmus recovering from his injuries and trying to work through his mental state and move on with his life.
Next is the longest track on the album, ‘Voyagers’ runs for almost nine and a half minutes and it’s as epically Proggy as you’d expect. There seems to be a connection between ‘Voyagers’ and ‘The Pioneer’ Both mention someone called Helena, in the ‘The Pioneer’ the protagonist reacts in horror to the realisation that he’s not going to see her again but in ‘Voyagers’ he’s laid with her in a field watching the skies. She seems to be in pain and I think it’s possible she has some form of terminal illness and there are a couple of references to letting go and embracing the darkness.
It starts off with some gentle acoustic guitar and a nice falsetto from Rasmus. Again, the song gradually builds in intensity until the final section where it all comes to a head. He definitely reminds me of Robert Plant when he cracks out the wails I this part. It’s a phenomenal song and easily the highlight of the whole album.
Following such an epic song was always going to be tricky and unfortunately REDWOLVES opted to do it with the weakest song on the album ‘Farthest From Heaven’ isn’t a bad song really, it’s just not as good as the other seven and it’s a bit of a disappointment after ‘Voyagers’. It fades on a fuzzy riff followed after a few seconds by the first verse also fading in, again with Rasmus singing falsetto. Once the song gets going it’s actually pretty good, with a chorus that echoes Rush, a great little midsection and probably the best lyrics on the album. It’s just a shame that the simpering intro and forgettable riff robs it of a lot of oomph.
As you can probably tell by the title, ‘Farthest From Heaven’ is about the descent into Hell after death and it’s pretty descriptive in its narrative:
“Hundreds of bodies, not moving or still
Trapped in their moment of grief
Failing and losing and aging and dying
With my voice they’re talking to me”
‘Temple Of Dreams’ is one of those annoying songs that, for all intents and purposes, is the title track of the album. It just has a different title itself. It drives me up the wall. It’s a slowish track that meanders in at its own leisure before unleashing a weird, mid-paced boogie riff, a bit like a Status Quo 7” on 33rpm. Maybe it’s the pace of the song or the similar title but it reminds me of Monster Magnet’s ‘Temple Of Your Dreams’ in places.
For the last three minutes of the song there’s some tasty Hammond organ playing along with them that makes me wish it had been there for the rest of the album too. It fits in with their sound really well and adds another dimension.
So that was ‘Future Because Past’ by REDWOLVES. I’d not heard of the band prior to this review and now it’s probably going to be pretty high up in my nerdy old Album Of The Year list. If I had to pick fault with it then maybe one or two songs wouldn’t have gone amiss and closing with two tracks that aren’t as good as the first six means it loses some momentum but those are both very minor quibbles for the sake of quibbling. This is a well crafted and thoughtful album that’s equal parts melody and musicianship. You should listen to it.
2. Rigid Generation
3. The Abyss
5. The Pioneer
7. Farthest From Heaven
8. Temple Of Dreams
Vocals – Rasmus Cundell
Guitar – Simon Stenbæk
Bass – Nicholas Tesla Jørgensen
Drums - Kasper Rebien