Candlebox – Wolves (Album Review)

Memories are the staves of reality yet they can become warped in the complexities of one’s mind. Music keeps a stagnant hold on memories because of the direct sound relation to an event, and this sparks nostalgia in music which can resonate for many years after the original memory fades.

Jumping back in time to 1993, Candlebox was emerging out of the Seattle Grunge scene into the hearts of those who could relate to their heartfelt lyrics and catchy riffs. Now traveling full speed ahead to our present time, September 17, 2021, to be exact, and they have just released a new album on Pavement Entertainment titled Wolves.

Minus a brief hiatus, Candlebox has been active for many, many years and evolving their sound to whatever seems to float their boat at the moment. Oddly, they seem to be able to carry the name of the band while not necessarily having a right off the bat recognized sound. On the Wolves album, they procure 11 tracks that have a bluesy Southern Rock sort of vibe, but still keep true to that lyrical formula Vocalist Kevin Martin excels at.

Starting off the vibe is a tune called “All Down Hill From Here Now.” After this bold and riff-packed introduction to Candlebox 2021 is an even catchier jam, “Let Me Down Easy.” While this track may not hold a candle to the wind, in terms of comparing it to the hits “You” and “Far Behind,” among others, it certainly serves its intent. However, the next two songs, “Riptide” and “Sunshine,” serve up a much more somber tone. This begins what can be considered Alternative Pop Rock with “My Weakness,” which seems to be very on-trend for the style.

The strength of Candlebox was that they started out with something powerful that was also outside of the box in its execution. Now it seems they are falling into a much more mainstream sound yet that’s not to discredit their result, and they are certainly not a band that is afraid to change themselves with the times. As long as they are staying true to themselves, which appears to be the case in this album, then they can’t fall off the beaten path to success.

That said, they pick up the pace with a stellar tune with a simple title: “We.” Then, moving into the latter portion of the LP, the riffs get more intense, as do the vocals, on “Nothing Left To Lose,” which throws all frustrations out the door. Fast forwarding to the beginning of the end, “Trip” seems to move into a slight Country vibe, but definitely the Rock is still as solid as ever. This keeps it in the realm of the main style that is Candlebox. Speaking of which, “Don’t Count Me Out” definitely carries a bit of the old-school Candlebox vibe, creating a nice ending to the album. However, the grand finale is “Criminals,” and it is a solid mix of both the past memories of Candlebox as well as the best of the now.

Whatever the future holds, the past will dictate a proper course of action in one way or another. It’s best to just go with the flow, as this ideology proves to be the best way to listen to this album. It’s commendable that these bands that achieved success so early on can still thrive in their own ways so many years later. For this reason, as well as all of the above, Cryptic Rock gives Wolves by Candlebox 4 out of 5 stars, and greatly appreciates the subtle simplicity of it all.

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