Manchester, UK-based alt-rockers, Amongst Wolves recently released their full-length album #choosetolive. The project is an eclectic journey through the world of mental health, addressed from a Christian perspective.
With a musical dexterity that keeps listeners on their toes, Amongst Wolves traverses the dark and gritty aspects of fighting with ourselves while clinging tightly to the hope that Christ brings. Their goal was to remove the romanticism that is often portrayed towards suicidal tendencies and mental health as a whole in the music scene. This was the push behind their #choosetolive campaign, launched early in 2021 with the release of their song “Voices.” While each track offers a new sound, there is a musical consistency that ties the entire album together.
Opening the album is “I Just Want To Feel Alive,” an on-the-nose homage to the craziness that was the lockdowns of 2020-2021 and the COVID crisis. “I Just Want To Feel Alive” presents tongue-in-cheek lyrics such as, “This room keeps me in, but my mind is the prison,” and “I gotta get out these four walls, gotta get out… gotta see sunlight again.” The song is a fantastic way of endearing the listener to the message of the album. To feel alive through the hope of Christ is the heart of this track, and ultimately, of the whole album. “Stuck in my own mind, lockdown of a different kind… I didn’t know why I was alive, didn’t know what I was here for. Now I can’t go back inside, now I’ve found my true cause.” The way they relate the lockdowns to being trapped in your own mind is stellar. The song has a triumphant, truly alive feeling that is contagious. Hearing vocalist Dan Jenkins give an almost hip-hop delivery in verse two was yet another new sound for the band.
“Defender” is the second track, and was the winner of the 2nd Annual Grizzly Awards Electronic Rock Song of the Year. This electronically-driven track is an excellent follow-up to the opener. Following the theme, it presents God as the defender of those who found out why they exist in the first place. The anthemic “See You Instead” follows, easily one of the band’s most rock-driven tracks since “Rabbit Hole.” It’s an aggressive attack on one’s inner thoughts, with a matching intensity between the lyrics and music.
Displaying an intelligent song structuring, “Horizon” showcases more of the band’s range, giving listeners a little taste of disco-driven rock. Based heavily on Psalm 139, this track delivers the scriptural basis of the album and is particularly connected to “See You Instead.” When Jenkins sings, “No matter how low, You’re gonna carry me, so even when I’m dead, I’ll see you instead,” it is bolstered by the idea of a God who never leaves us or lets go of us (as found in “Horizon”). Honestly, the placement of the tracks on this album is so smartly done— further evidenced by the way the next three tracks connect with one another.
“Fall Down,” “I Am Anxious” and “Voices” all blend together to form the capstone of the album. “Fall Down” is a synth-driven ballad that removes all barriers, displaying a vulnerability that is found only in the complete surrender to God. The line “One thing I am thankful for, is that you brought me to my knees” encapsulates the entirety of the track: a willingness to allow God to make the changes required for us to find peace within Him.
This is also the message of “I Am Anxious.” A spoken word track from bassist Clarissa Wakefield, the track serves as the superbly executed thesis of the album. “Voices” caps off the trifecta and links everything that came before it together with the idea that everything we fight within ourselves can be quieted when we choose to live by listening to the ultimate voice: Jesus.
“Runaway” is very much a pop-rock-oriented track that would fit in with the likes of Mayday Parade, We the Kings and others of that genre. It’s an interesting take on the prodigal son story, begging, “If I run away, come find me.” At the heart of the song is the common doubt that we aren’t enough to truly be loved. The dissonance between the fun energy of the music and the hesitation and caution of the lyrics is a classic pop-rock tension. As with the rest of the album, there is hope within the doubt: “Something inside is pushing me away, I ran away – but you chased me down. You tell me, ‘It will be okay. Don’t run away, child.'”
Right on the heels of this track is the closer, “Golden,” which is arguably one of the most encouraging tracks of the year (with an equally entertaining video). As with so many tracks on this album, “Golden” is connected directly with “Runaway.” Where the previous track questions how worthy one is of love, this song affirms the worth one has simply because of who Jesus is. “Jesus, you make me whole” is the perfect line to close the album: amid all the self-doubt, inner criticism, and trappings of one’s own mind, Jesus is the source of our peace and worth.
#choosetolive is such a musically eclectic album that you really just need to experience it for yourself. The overarching narrative of the hope found in Jesus during the midst of chaos is woven so carefully through each track, bringing an astounding cohesion to the entirety of the album’s runtime. Given Amongst Wolves’s creativity and flexibility, it is unlikely that the impact of this album will diminish any time soon.
Tune in to their channel and follow them all over social media to keep up to date with their campaign and their music: Facebook, Instagram. All of Amongst Wolves’ music is available on Apple Music and Spotify.