Riverboat Gamblers have been producing their energetic rock-fuelled punk for over a decade. Some may even call them veterans. ‘The Wolf You Feed’ marks the band’s first full-length album since 2009’s ‘Underneath The Owl’ but the three year wait has meant the band have hoarded every ounce of energy into the recording of this album. The ‘Smash/Grab’ EP released last year hinted that the band may be returning to the same frantic fun two minute frenzied rock tracks that they used to create, but sadly that seems a bit like an empty promise.
The album in parts is an assault of high energy punk that caters to frontman Mike Wiebe’s frantic nature solidly backed by a relentless wall of non-stop rock. There are plenty of songs on the album that reach out with a giant hand and grab a hold of you right to the end – such as ‘Good Veins’ with its killer chorus “I’ve got venom, you’ve got veins” which topples into ‘Bite Your Tongue’ which gives punch with equal measure. These two explosive opening tracks to the album produce a solid foundation for the rest of the album. ‘Soliloquy’ pounds through all the aggression Wiebe has to offer in his lashing lyrical delivery which produces a chant-worthy ripping chorus and enough attitude to power the entire band.
Each track combines taut, toned, ripping guitars merged with tendon-snapping drum beats, mixed in with charged vocals. Each track is well-crafted and attacks deep to the core and will make you want to move: there’s no doubt about it. The album does slow down in parts and some tracks although still heavy are not quite as fast and powerful. ‘Comedians’ for example is a very mid-tempo track which lacks the in your face pounding element and gets a bit lost in the shuffle of the album alongside other tracks such as ‘Dead Eyes’ and ‘Blue Ghosts’. Fortunately the album wraps up with ‘Eviction Notice’ which shows off the band at their most vulnerable and emotional, and is a very strong end to the album.
Riverboat Gamblers have shown that they can mature musically while still producing the same swagger and strength in their new material to run against their younger incarnation. They have evolved without completely losing the plot.
Reviewer: Rhian Westbury