Wolves At The Gate is unpredictable. Their hard-hitting rock instrumentation, melodic artistry, and poetic lyricism evades genres, escapes classifications, and hovers above the few boxes reserved for metal music. Their uncatchable rhythms and dynamic refrains move too quickly to be foreseen, and because they weld genres together and rearrange what’s uniformly un-arrangeable, they’re loosened from the grip of mediocrity. “Heavy music keeps being placed into smaller and smaller boxes,” explains the band’s lead vocalist, Stephen Cobucci, “and we want to keep pulling ourselves out of them. I want someone to take me on a ride when I listen to their record. I don’t want to know where they’re going with the song and I don’t like knowing what to expect.” Since their conception in 2008, the band—made up of Cobucci, Nicky Detty, Ben Summers, and Abishai Collingsworth—aims to write that way.
However, though they’ve built a reputation around unreckonable sound, their theme is as finite as ever. As was the case with their first two records, one mighty decoration drapes itself atop, around, and within every Wolves At The Gate song: Jesus Christ. “If you truly want to talk about art, you have to talk about the Creator of art. There isn’t anything more beautiful than Christ, and our biggest hope is for people to see that.” Thus enters their third release on Solid State Records, Types & Shadows, out November 4th—a record that continually introduces the listener to the post hardcore boundlessness that is Wolves At The Gate while inviting them to see the beauty in God's mercy to sinners.
“All the songs on the record are written in story form: some of it’s in first person narrative, some of it third, and some of it’s written allegorically. They’re all shadows of real stories,” explains Cobucci, “stories that represent my sin and continued revelation that God is gracious despite how broken I am.”
Take the song, “Lowly,” a track Cobucci says describes his entire life. Inspired by Romans 7, the song laments over the flesh’s war with the Spirit. The lyrics, “Vexed am I to see I do the things that I hate / Rip out the framework leave no stone unturned / Until my heart forgets all that my flesh ever learned” mourns the reality of man’s wickedness. “The instrumentation in this song came naturally because I truly felt sick of myself, I felt somber.” notes Cobucci, “I had to remember that although we feel darkness, God illuminates.” The end of the song, with screams of relief and exploding guitars, belts “Lowly man! You have saved such a wretch that I am / Blessed man that I am, lowly man! / You have saved such a man!”, reminding himself—and the listener—of God's willingness to show grace to weak and broken people.
Another song, “War In The Time Of Peace,” is a parabolic retelling of the misguided fight to find worth, comfort, and satisfaction in who you are and what you do. The story follows a soldier who, after being told by his captain the war is over, sneaks from the barracks to fight. In his fury and confusion, he gets caught in a snare. “The Captain comes and finds him, bearing the marks that won the war, and loosens the soldier from the trap,” explains Cobucci. “God loves us because He loves. An old snare I fall into all the time is the thought that I’m earning God’s love by what I do, whether it be with obedience or doing good things. This song is an anthem that all I need to do is rest in His work for me and enjoy Him.” With guttural vocals that meet harmonic verse, the track showcases Wolves At The Gate’s ability to utilize both scream and sonnet.
Although the songs are Cobucci’s personal struggles personified, they aren’t truly about him at all. “There was a mentality shift both lyrically and musically with this record. I realized I don’t like how most music is about empowerment. You can't find empowerment in yourself, it can only be found in Jesus through His love and forgiveness,” he explains. “Lyrically I’ve tried to stay away from any kind of ‘looking to self’ theme. I’ve seen how people tend to glorify the man and what he says and miss what he's saying and who he is talking about. If there’s anything I want people to see, it’s that I’m a broken man given a great grace. I want people to feel the same highs and lows and go on the journey with us, to take stock of their own lives, and see how these truths can help them see something truly beautiful.”
Wolves At The Gate wraps their heavy sound in a weightless grace—one that reminds each listening ear that the beauty of brokenness isn’t solely found in swooping melodies or emphatic beats, but in the One who can restore it all.