Wolverine - Machina Viva album review

Swedish prog-metal quintet Wolverine’s stuttering return.

Wolverine - Machina Viva album artwork

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Funny how, for some musicians, and indeed fans, progressive music has become defined by one chief characteristic – unconventional time signatures. Judging by this fifth studio album, Wolverine see it as an indispensable part of their sound. Driven by the rhythms of drummer and co-founder Marcus Losbjer, at times during The Bedlam Overture’s 14-minute opener, their sound resembles power metal with its shoelaces tied together. Three-legged time signatures seem to be their default, and sometimes it’s highly effective, adding to the brooding, uneasy feel of Our Last Goodbye.

But when it’s applied to every song, even when they need to build up a head of rock’n’roll steam, it’s an unwelcome pacebreaker, and mainly shows that Losbjer can do something technically challenging with his kit. Now and again it enhances the heavier fare, such as on the staccato punch of Pledge’s riff assault, but elsewhere it’s a trademark that’s closer to a musical straitjacket. That’s a shame because there are strong, emotive melodies at work here when the instrumental indulgences are stripped back, as shown on the bonus track ballad Pile Of Ash. Proof, if they want it, that less really can be more.