Wolverine
The Window Purpose

The re-release of The Window Purpose takes us back to a more active, aggressive Wolvernine. Despite being loaded with influences and various stylistic sounds, the album is nonetheless cohesive, held together especially by Stefan Zell’s vocals.While Wolverine fits into the prog metal label, there are moments of all sorts of musical styles including blues, funk, prog rock, space music, and hair metal. From Amorphis to Dokken, Dream Theater, King’s X, and a fair amount of Pain of Salvation, The Window Purpose throws out enough variations to tire out even the best of metal’s historians. Still, none of these dominate the overall sound, and Wolverine’s variations and maneuverings are controlled and packaged into a distinct creation. Those who have cast aside more recent Wolverine releases might be surprised by the level of energy felt on The Window Purpose. Though their 1999 EP, A Fervent Dream, contained a few more death metal tendencies, The Window Purpose is not as quiet and reserved as more recent releases, containing harder riffing at times and even effective death metal growls at some stages of the album. There are moments when I first listened to this album that I thought I might not reach its end, particularly considering that the beginning half of the album is far weaker than the latter half. Giving it time however has proven that The Window Purpose holds a number of inspired tracks which reach into the upper levels of emotion. Spending some time with the lyrics and the theme of the album might add even further appreciation.

With all the positives I have to say about the album, some parts still give me trouble, particularly at the beginning. The initial track is but an intro of spoken words which is then followed by “My Room,” a song which has many weaknesses despite good musicianship and great variation. Not too tasteful keys open the song, and there’s a shouting, almost hardcore-like vocal style in parts of the track which nearly led me to pack it in. The softer vocals are good at times, but annoying in other places. Keyboards and the guitar sound reminds too much of late Amorphis. Moving on to “His Cold Touch, Part I” did not initially fix my dilemma. It starts off sounding as a 1980s hair metal ballad. The vocals and keyboards also were tough to swallow at first. It was actually the sparsely used death vocal growls in the chorus of this track which forced me to first take notice and begin to enjoy this release. They provide an instant edge which almost makes the entire song eerily work. At the least, they balance out the softer aspects of the track to make it whole again. At the 4:49 mark, there is a great improvement in the song with a faster tempo, harder riff, and a good guitar solo. By the end of the song, something seems to have mysteriously clicked, no matter how poorly it started. Followiing a brief accoustic interlude for “His Cold Touch, Part II,” “Leaving Yesterday” merges a King’s X “soul metal” sound with a suave female vocalist and a few pop metal components. Overall, it doesn’t work too well, but there are still some moments when the song is enjoyable.

“Towards Loss” however is the track which really gets The Window Purpose moving. The keyboards instantly open with an interesting mystique, sound, and rhythm. Next the bass gallops in, followed by riffs reminiscent of Dokken’s “Mr. Scary.” Growling vocals again compliment exceptional clean vocals, and the song offers an awesome chorus with overall great arrangements. This is quickly followed by “The Storm Inside,” which begins with another tense opening at which the listener can almost be assured something good is lurking around the corner.

Awesome vocals by Stefan Zell cut through the music perfecltly, holding even some subtle Perfect Symmetry-era Fates Warning vocal styles and themes. I’m not a fan of the brief, bluesy, guitar work, but the soft guitar, growls by drummer Marcus Losbjer, and anthemic chorus are representative of all the best of metal. Not content yet, “Coma” belts out yet another fabulous track, an intricate puzzle of complimentary wizardry from the entire band which includes probably the best guitar solo of the album. Drums, guitars, vocals, bass, and keyboards all put forth their very best blood on this song. “Release” and “Post Life” return the album to its more questionable leanings with the former being a 2 minute accoustical ballad again more akin to glam metal, while the latter is Wolverine’s rendition of Queensryche’s “Silent Lucidity,” adding keyboards trying hard to land from outer space. On the reissue, Wolverine has added “Again” as a 10 minute bonus track, and it strengthens the release in every way. It begins with a soft guitar of gloomy melody, then moves into a mid-paced doom with death vocals similar to Amorphis’ Black Winter Day sound. Clean vocals are added later and an emotionally charged, well-executed guitar solo is eclipsed only by a mesmerizing, tempered jam at the closing of the song.

Despite some weaknesses and individual aspects which normally turn me off, The Window Purpose has too many good qualities and inspired songs to ignore. Sadly, The Window Purpose reveals a superior side of Wolverine which they’ve more or less left behind. It also show an endless array of other paths the band could have chosen to travel down. Despite not being particularly appreciative of Wolverine’s current sound, The Window Purpose offers not only a hope that Wolverine may at some point return to some of their earlier sounds, but also an emotional music worth holding onto and appreciating irrespective of the band’s more recent leanings. Prog metal fans particularly should not miss this reissue if it was missed originally. It’s a diverse, fulfilling achievement which grabs the listener, demonstrating both insight and skill.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Tim Dodd
July 6th, 2005

Comments

  1. Commented by: Patrick

    Gonna give this album a listen, thanks Tim.


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