Although they only released their debut album Secrets in 2019, Written By Wolves are already New Zealand’s most streamed progressive rock band. Formed in 2014, their name reflects their perceived cohesiveness, or pack connection, when they play their live shows. Now the band wants to give back to their loyal fans and the wider community. The purpose of The Collab Project E.P. , which features several guest artists in a re-imagining of five tracks taken from debut album Secrets, is designed to raise awareness about, and break down the barriers that prevent the discussion of mental health.
Composed of ex Shotgun Alley and 5Star Fallout members, Written by Wolves have selected several tracks that they feel can, with the help of their collaborators, help those who feel vulnerable and alone. They want everyone to know that struggling to achieve positive mental health is a common issue and should be normalised, not marginalised and whispered about. It’s a cause that sits well with Silence Is The Enemy which is a magazine founded on this very premise, that music has the power to heal and unite people who are suffering. No, music is not always enough but it can be a powerful statement of support for all of us.
The E.P. begins with the tongue-in-cheek Better Luck Next Time which features Trenton Woodley of Hands Like Houses. Ever struggled to get through and just when you think you are winning the prize turns out to be just another shitshow? You can hear the disappointment and frustration build as the suspicion surfaces that ‘The deck’s been stacked this whole damn time’. It’s a mindset and a struggle known to many who do well only to be kicked a few steps backward ,if they find that break at all. Learned helplessness breeds toxicity, illness and mental pain. The video, directed and shot by their guitarist, Bahador Borhani addresses the issue in a light-hearted way as it portrays life as a matrix style game in which you can repeatedly lose, better luck next time!
Next up is the ultimate outlet to talk about uncomfortable things, Secrets. The re-imagined version featuring P.O.D.’s Sonny Sandoval has a harder beat and a new metal style rap intro. About regret and missed opportunities, the song ends in an amazing metal break which compels you out of your silence and out into the light.
Our stories features spoken perspectives on personal mental health issues set to an atmospheric instrumental no doubt created by percussionist and sound effect and sample wizard Oli Lyons. The deeply personal insights are haunting and so compelling that the eleven and a half minutes dedicated to this piece of social artistry is over before you know it. If you are struggling to cope, you will be able to find resonance here. You are not alone, you are part of a wider community of people who have these experiences.
… And so Lucky Stars asks you what it is that you are thinking as you look up at the stars,
‘You shouldn’t need a song to save your life, The world should care enough for you to feel that you belong right here, But we all know that that’s not right, So sing this song and know that someone out there cares’.
Guest vocals from Sydney Rae Wright are beautiful and engaging, taking the song to another level.
The second spoken word ‘track’ Hope tells the tales of what happened after, because there is an after for many and Written By Wolves want to make sure there is an after for more. It does generate hope because it doesn’t just tell people that the after is easy and that it will be great but that the after is definitely worth the struggle no matter how much that may seem otherwise at the time. How do you get there? For a start you change the way you deal with mental health, you open up, you talk and you share experiences. It is a mountain to climb, but if you don’t have the strength this is a band and a community that wants to be there for you. All you have to do is let them. Maybe there’s the smallest chance they can get you through the toughest of times.
Help Me Through The Night is an anthemic and painful, yet hope fuelled song. When Kellin Quinn (Sleeping With Sirens) was asked to collaborate he returned the track the same day so excited he was to be part of this project. His amazing vocal stretches effortlessly communicate the fear of not being in control of yourself, wanting to be safe but unable to be free of that ‘Devil on your shoulder’. Someone please tell me that this struggle is not inevitable. It isn’t, but you need to fight… and that requires someone you can relate to.
The last track is about love, the most powerful serotonin producer. Forever and Always features Beck Wright, the first New Zealand Idol in 2006 when she was already an established musical theatre veteran. Her vocal is shiver inducing. If this was the end of the world, who would you want to spend it with? A love song that you probably won’t hate. Who knew that existed?
What an E.P.! It’s easy to see why Written By Wolves are so successful. They write songs about real experiences that people know. They have shared experience and so you can relate, and when you relate, despite your best efforts, you feel. Head towards your pack, Written By Wolves are waiting for you. We’re here.
Release Date: 17 September 2021
Available to download here: https://writtenbywolves.com/music
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