“The Alpha” is the third single by Finnish melodic death metal band Wolftopia. The single, off their 2021 debut album Ways of the Pack, boasts the characteristic fast-paced melodic death metal that the band have become known for since their first release (the 2019 EP I am the Storm). “The Alpha” opens with a frenetic guitar riff by guitarist, singer and frontman Aleksander Okhotnikov. This opening soon settles into a menacing riff accompanied by the unforgiving blast-beats of drummer Tom Israels and pounding lines of bassist Tim Reus.
Okhotnikov explains that the song is about the chaos of nature: the breath of the wild, the harshness of existing at the mercy of nature, the never-ending, cruel cycle of life… And listening to the song, that’s not hard to imagine. From the first of Okhotnikov’s howls to the tremolo picking and majestic chords by lead guitarist Topi Karhunen, the song breathes that chaos. The melody occupies the middle ranges — neither high nor low — which makes it difficult to interpret, and this interpretation is not aided either by the movement of the melody: it moves up and down at seemingly random intervals, fully encapsulating the unpredictability of the wilderness.
The lyrics tell of dominance in a wolf pack. Okhotnikov admits that the alpha male theory has long been debunked, but the idea persists in popular culture, and it’s an enticing metaphor for the cyclic nature of, well, nature. The alpha leads the pack, grows old, and is replaced by the next alpha. The cycle starts again. That notion of repeating cycles can also be heard in the music. The main melody continues into the verse, and the pre-chorus melody into the chorus, changed but still the same. And this cycle of verse, pre-chorus and chorus repeats throughout the song, too, just like the cycle of nature. The song ends with the introduction melody, but changed yet again. We are back at the start. The cycle is ready to repeat itself. But everything keeps changing. The wilderness is never predictable.
Listen to The Alpha single on:
Apple Music: https://apple.co/3qrpYjK
1. Hound of War
2. The Last Embrace of the Mother
3. Wash the Spears
4. We are Pack
6. May He Sever the Shadow
7. The Alpha
8. I am the Storm
Aleksander Okhotnikov (Vocals & guitars)
Tom Israels (Drums)
Tim Reus (Bass)
Topi Karhunen (Guitar)