Jul 2015 27

Ego Likeness - When the Wolves ReturnEgo Likeness
Category: Darkwave / Electro / Goth
Album: When the Wolves Return
Stars: 4
Blurb: Richly crafted yet effectively straightforward songwriting topped off by lyrics that bear an emotional gravitas usually reserved for the most personal and poignant poetry.


Although the darkwave duo’s last album, Breedless was released five years ago, Ego Likeness has been hardly in a state of inactivity; besides facing a number of personal demons, Donna Lynch and Steven Archer have kept busy with various artistic and musical projects, all the while maintaining an extensive touring schedule that has had audiences virtually begging the band for a new album. Almost three years after the Treacherous Thing single was released to tease the album then known as Know Thine Enemy, Ego Likeness unveils an album that – in the band’s own words – stands as “a glorious testament to survival and strength.” When the Wolves Return showcases these musicians in fine form with the usual blend of dark yet danceable electro-tinged rock, with elements of industrial and trip-hop infused for a varied yet cohesive sound that can only be identified as Ego Likeness.

A reverberating bass and a twinkling keyboard arpeggio enters as Donna Lynch softly sings “Coming back,” as if to preface the impending return of some ghostly presence whose intentions may not be so pure; augment by a simple procession of howling guitars and harmonious layers of vocals and electronic atmosphere, “Leave a Light On, Thomas” is a marvelous opener that hints to the audience that this musical journey may not always be pleasant or welcoming, but will be nonetheless enticing in its mystery. Throughout the album, as Ego Likeness is quite well known for, Lynch and Archer strike a strangely infectious balance between intricate programming and austere songwriting with a greater emphasis on mood and lyricism. It is not uncommon for songs to stay within a particular range of no greater than three chords, which in the hands of a lesser band would result in monotony, but in the hands of Ego Likeness is simply a means to anchor the listener as Lynch’s voice takes the reigns. Such is the case in a song like “Treacherous Thing” as the chorus builds in intensity, a sense of desperation made known by an insistent tempo and Lynch’s rising octaves to end the song on a high note, and while tracks like “Darkness” or “Oracle” might be easily dismissed as darkwave dance fodder, the interplay of Lynch’s harmonies – sometimes sultry, sometimes malicious, always energetic – and Archer’s gritty guitar tone accentuating the electronics makes for an ever enjoyable listen. “New Legion” moves at a much more languid pace befitting its defiant and anthemic tone with lyrics like “We are justice, we are treason, we are karma, we are reason,” while songs like “Mercy” and “Someday” have a much more traditionally dark/rock sensibility that immediately recalls the likes of The Mission UK. Two songs, however, stand out to this writer; waves of celestial synths amid a haze of slow drumbeats, sustained guitars, and Lynch’s signature vocal layers make for a bleakly dreamy song in “Crossed,” while the title track ends the album much as it began as somber pianos and foggy synth- and guitar-laden ambience hover eerily with Lynch’s mournful tone lulling the listener into a state of unease, the percussion gradually building in tension with an almost militaristic cadence.

When the Wolves Return is in many ways the consummate Ego Likeness album, full of all of the band’s darkwave hallmarks – richly crafted yet effectively simple songwriting topped off by lyrics that bear an emotional gravitas usually reserved for the most personal and poignant poetry. It is a style that has kept audiences quite satisfied for over a decade-and-a-half, and Ego Likeness shows no signs of changing the approach, preferring rather to excel at it. As Lynch states, “the wolves are still out there,” and this album’s sometimes menacing, sometimes cautionary tone conveys this notion quite well, all the while providing the musical armament to face the creatures. Well done, Ego Likeness.
Track list:

  1. Leave a Light On, Thomas
  2. Darkness
  3. En Rouge
  4. New Legion
  5. Oracle
  6. Mercy
  7. I Let You
  8. Crossed
  9. Persona Non Grata
  10. Treacherous Thing
  11. Someday
  12. When the Wolves Return

Ego Likeness
Website, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud
Metropolis Records
Website, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
Storming the Base CD
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

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