Written by Anthony Toto
“Do my best to make it/God knows, I can’t take it/I do my best to live with the pain/You don’t know the shape I’m in,” Vinnie Caruana’s fearless honesty on the track “177” displays a barebones punk attitude severely lacking in today’s oversaturated music scene.
Brooklyn’s finest post-hardcore/punk act I Am The Avalanche released its latest LP Wolverines demonstrating the member’s coherent outlook in creating the strongest material of its career. Burdened by a rough patch of health issues sidetracking his creative outlet, frontman Vinnie Caruana channeled his personal struggles into a 30-minute journey where he discovers newfound hope with the help of his bandmates. Despite the obstacles sidetracking its career, I Am The Avalanche refuses to thrown in the towel.
Wolverines finds the New Yorker’s moving away from its roots in post-hardcore and more towards a sound reminiscent of early punk. On tracks including “Two Runaways” and “177,” Caruana’s raspy snarl allows the simplistic chord progressions to add a boost of punk demeanor that bridges the gap between The Sex Pistols and The Ramones. It’s refreshing to hear a vocalist with his own indistinguishable style, especially in a post hardcore scene stacked with unoriginal copycats. The added grittiness provided by Caruana’s voice allows the melodies to flow over potential crowd-chanting moments that will take new life in a live setting. Images of fans packed into a club and singing into Carauna’s microphone while people crowd surf over their heads comes to mind during this entire album.
Caurana’s forthright lyrical approach brings the listener into his personal headspace after dealing with some harsh experiences. Tracks including “177” and “Where Were You” reference the emotional trauma of witnessing hurricane sandy from the west coast as the storm ravaged through the band’s New York hometown. Feeling a sense of guilt for missing at a time when his friends and family needed him most, Cauruana says, “Can you face your friends when they have laid it on the line for you?/And you’ve done nothing but disgrace the gang and let them hang.” While those lyrics sound depressing, the actual performances retain an upbeat tone therefore helping the band find forgiveness through their songwriting. As the album progresses, the songs continue a therapeutic theme of moving forward without taking two steps back.
Overall, Wolverines maintains fairly simple song structures not too afar from 2011’s Avalanche United and 2005’s self-titled debut. I Am The Avalanche took the blueprints of both records and concentrated on improving in areas of consistency and delivering something memorable on each track. The relatively quick listening experience allows fans to absorb the album right after the first listen without feeling overwhelmed. With a history spanning over a decade and only three studio albums, the band’s anthem choruses and high-energy character matured gracefully with time.
Longtime fans should embrace Wolverines as it is clearly the best effort of the band’s career. The only inconsistency is that when the songs maintain similar tempos; the transition into the next track could become lost in the shuffle. Counteracting my last point, the album deserves a 4/5 for steadily creating something unique by mashing such personal lyrical content over hooky guitar riffs. The album isn’t full of typical punk rock clichés, within the simplicity represents a bigger message found in the New York Hardcore scene of staying positive and sticking to your beliefs.