"Machina Viva"

By Colonel Angus

It has been half a decade since Wolverine released a record and it has been worth the wait.  I am fairly new to this Swedish group with my first taste being 2011’s "Communication Lost".  Since getting that disk, I went ahead and purchased the older releases; such was the impact of "Communication Lost".  After listening to their whole catalogue in order, I can honestly say that they get better with each subsequent record.  Maybe Machina Viva is my favorite now because it is the newest and it still has areas for me to explore.  Each time I listen to tracks like “Nemesis”, “The Bedlam Overture”, and “Our Last Goodbye”, I discover new sounds and lyrics that affect me.  Quite honestly, each of the tracks hold many layers that you could not possibly “experience” the music in one sitting.  As I write this, I’m listening to “When the Night Comes’ and I’m hearing new things within the track (and that is after two dozen spins).  I hate to throw the word “epic” in the review because it has been overused many time (not by me) but at the end of the day, that is the best way to describe Machina Viva.  

Wolverine consists of five guys that are really know how to play their instruments but more importantly, they know how to write music that is both enjoyable and challenging.  They create a soundscape that keeps the listener focused on the music and not how good they are at their respective instruments.  The performances on this record are perfect across the board.  Stefan Zell delivers a great vocal performance throughout while Jonas Jonsson moody solos fit the songs without overplaying.  Thomas Jansson (bass) and Marcus Losbjer (drums) do more than just provide a solid foundation for the songs to build upon.  Both of these guys help put the “prog” in this prog metal outfit by adding their subtle touches within each track.  With all of this going on, Per Henriksson provides the icing on the cake with a keyboard performance that evokes emotions with every note.  I’m not much of a keyboard fan (I prefer the riffing of a guitar) but I have to say that Henriksson has changed my mind.

This year has seen some fantastic releases.  Denner / Shermann (Masters of Evil), Megadeth (Dystopia), and Diamond Head (self-titled) just to name a few.  Hell, I am anxiously awaiting the new Evergrey release "The Storm Within".  Even with all of these great CDs, I’m going to go on record as stating that Wolverine’s "Machina Viva" will be in my top 10 of 2016.  I’m just hoping that I won’t have to wait another five years before they release new music.