Direwolves - Aegri SomniaAfter making an impression with their debut EP “Me From Myself, To Banish” in 2012, hopes are high for French quintet Direwolves to make a name for themselves in the dog-eat-dog world of post hardcore with first full-length “Aegri Somnia” (literally translated as “A Sick Man’s Dream”). Do they have what it takes out to stand out from the pack?

While the EP hinted at a barely controlled aggression exacerbated by an appreciation for the more discordant end of the hardcore spectrum, these influences appear to have been kicked into the long grass on “Aegri Somnia.” Instead of the Converge and Deadguy worship of before, we now have a version of the kind of safe, made-for-Warped-Tour hardcore you can find neatly packaged on Architects records. Whether this is due to record company interference or just the sound of a band naturally outgrowing their influences is open to speculation, but it’s undeniably an unwelcome transition.

That’s not to say that the likes of whirlwind opening numbers ‘Insights’ and ‘The Blindness That Keeps You Warm’ don’t rage in the required manner with exactly the right amount of pounding drums, breakneck guitars and angst-filled screams; it’s just that the off-kilter aggression of before which made Direwolves such an engaging proposition was far more preferable to this version of neatly-packaged aggression.

“Aegri Somnia” does improve somewhat as the record progresses, with some nods towards acts such as Blacklisted and Modern Life is War evident in tracks like the anthemic ‘The Liar’s Choice’, and at 25 minutes or so it’s an album that doesn’t ask much of anyone. If Direwolves would be prepared to study their first recording to see if they can capture some of the old magic on any future release then it’s worth watching to see if these dogs can still bite as well as bark.

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