North Carolina’s Wailin Storms are intriguingly described as shapeshifting, atmospheric noise rockers, and I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that particular epithet at first. However, within the first few minutes of their latest album The Silver Snake Unfolds, (Gilead Media), I got the idea, and after subsequent listens I knew exactly what they meant.
As the album opens up, the titular unfolding silver snake seems to be represented perfectly in the slithering slinky basslines by Steve Stanczyk in the ominous ‘In the Heart of the Sea’, a deep and brooding musical tribute/epilogue to the story that inspired Melville to write Moby Dick. Imagine Ahab if they’d been inspired by nineties alt-rock.
Lead Single ‘Broken into Three’ is a heavy ominous song with an industrial stomp to the relentless beat from Mark Oates, bathed liberally in wave after wave of fuzzy guitars from Justin Storms and Todd Warner. However, despite the oppressive air, it is also pretty damn catchy, especially the chorus.
‘Sunday Morning Ceremony’ continues much in the same captivating vein, and by this point in the album has built up real energy to it, you can feel yourself getting caught up in the whole thing, swept along in a wave of fuzzy riffs.
‘Drag’ has a cinematic americana feel to it, brimming with angst and melancholy as it shimmers along mesmerically before momentarily exploding and then returning to its mournful lament. An emotional vignette of the cycle of letting it all build up until it’s too late.
‘Who Took Our Drugs’ contrasts that crawl by returning to the monolithic wall of sound but intertwined with ethereal wounded screams. The almost title track ‘The Silver Snake Unfolds And Swallows The Black Night Whole’ is an angry number which features wounded howling vocals in a style reminiscent of Unto Others but less refined.
‘Concrete Covers Dead Lovers’ is a powerful piece which builds consistently throughout its duration, the pained vocals from Storms howling over the top of the absolutely full soundscape. Final track ‘Carolina Moon’ has a bleak cinematic vibe initially, again quite potently delivered, before building up to an explosive crescendo.
There are lots to listen to here, with much to discover on subsequent listens, intricacies which can be easy to miss on the first few listens, twisting around the powerful main structure and melodies. It is catchy enough to drag you along for the ride: emotionally charged and expertly juxtaposing crisis and confidence into a potent intoxicating listen. This is an album which clearly has had a lot of thought put into its composition and keeps on delivering even after many a listen.
8 / 10