In the Presence of Wolves - Of Two Minds, Stages 1-2: The Ape and the Cage

In the Presence of Wolves is a four piece Progressive Metal band based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They celebrated their fifth anniversary of forming as a band this month, and if you don't know their music, now is the time to discover them. They have recently released a superb new EP Of Two Minds, Stages 1-2: The Ape and the Cage. Not only is the musicianship on the EP breathtaking in terms of its sonic breadth, it also has a striking narrative theme, with its story of twin brothers, one suffering from mental health difficulties, who takes his own life. The songs deal with how the remaining brother deals with his grief, and there is a powerful sadness and empathy across the song cycle.

As We Speak Pt. 1 shows the sense of musical freedom the band is able to embrace, with its gentle, almost classical in tone, piano introduction. The opening lyrical line 'The voices in your head are calling...' poignantly sets the scene for what is to come. The song ends with an up tempo rush, with the sweet vocal harmonies to the fore. A powerful opener.

White Noise the third track in, has some beautiful melodic guitar work underpinned with some stunning jazz rock rhythms, leading into some incredibly dynamic and fast ensemble playing. It really ratchets up the musical intensity, which the two atmospheric guitar solos match perfectly.

The Ape and the Cage commences with an acoustic guitar and plaintive vocal, before hitting a jagged side both lyrically and musically. With metal and progressive influences crossing throughout the song, it feels a real emotional roller coaster. The killer riffs, shifting time signatures and quieter musical interludes, create what is simply a progressive metal tour de force!

This is music that you want to listen too again and again, to soak in all the musical detail and nuances at work. Think the excellent Between The Buried and Me and Animals as Leaders as a starting point, and add in a massive dose of the band's own originality, that takes progressive metal in a very exciting direction.

The final track, Manipulation Under Anesthesia, commences with a great solo drum pattern, and here the tight harmony vocals really come into their own. At points the vocals are almost screamed such is the heartfelt nature of the song. The most lyrical and spine tingling guitar solos take place on this song; and the lyric 'But your the only one here, and I feel so scared' feels so touching.

One of the best releases in 2017, you really need to listen to this one!