Wolf Eyes - I Am a Problem: Mind in Pieces

by Hayden Harman Rating:7 Release Date:2015-10-30

Wolf Eyes, the so-called kings of US noise return with I Am a Problem: Mind in Pieces, an album that is as heartbreaking as it is bleak. Their brand of hard-rock drone wailings, “trip metal” as they’ve dubbed it, evokes a barren landscape, much like the desert setting on the album’s cover. As someone who has lived in the desert their whole life, I know what the desert looks and sounds like, but more importantly, I know the existential feel of the desert.

The experimental trio explores the desolate desert of the mind and the problems that break it down over the course of life. This album is about the fractures, not the whole. It is the cracked and dusty ground whose open mouth craves water.

The opening song “Catching the Rich Train,” a mixture of Sunburned Hand of the Man with a sprinkle of Animal Collective chanting, is a swirling dream jam that forces the listener to meet the band on their turf. On the following track, “Twister Nightfall,” the band creates a steady death march that relentlessly marks the passing of time, a constant reminder of the wearisome but transitory nature of life. Almost every track on the album features wailing guitars, monotonous vocals and an underlying drone provided by the rhythm section. The band begins to turn it up halfway through “T.O.D.D.,” but really only lets loose on “Enemy Ladder,” the heaviest and most punk-influenced song on the record. That is where everything comes to a head, the physical breaking point caused by the steady death jams that precede it.

“Cynthia Vortex AKA Trip Memory Illness” is the last song on the album. It builds and grows, full of claustrophobic interplay between the guitar and echoey voice until it abruptly stops. The silence that follows puts the album into perspective, that peaceful quiet contrasted with the heavy, sad sounds of the album. As a listener you can’t help but feel an undefined sense of loss; your mind in pieces instead of having peace of mind. I’m drawn back to the the album’s cover art, which has another meaning, far more personal than symbolic. It was created by vocalist Nate Young’s brother Peter, who passed away earlier this year. Wolf Eyes explores the universality of loss, and the problems that come as a result, in the only way they know how: they give it everything until everything stops.

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