Wolf – Ravenous (2009, Century Media)
- Speed On
- Curse You Salem
- Hail Caesar
- Mr. Twisted
- Love At First Bite
- Secrets We Keep
- Whisky Psycho Hellions
- Hiding In Shadows
- Blood Angel
Niklas Stålvind – Lead Vocals & Guitars
Johannes Axeman – Guitars & Backing Vocals
Anders Modd – Bass
Richard Holmgren – Drums
Producer: Roy Z
Total Time = 47:51
Wolf has been around for close to 15 years and releasing albums since 1999. Their style is unashamedly old school showing devotion to the likes of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Helloween, Ozzy and pretty much anything fitting the classic ’80s Metal sound. It’s no surprise that the band’s latest album, RAVENOUS, follows the same successful formula and seems like it came out of time warp and landed in 2009.
Opening track ‘Speed On’ starts off with a speedy opening guitar that sounds like something from Maiden or Helloween and absolutely competes with today’s Power Metal peers like Hammerfall and Primal Fear. The key is the power of the twin guitars, right away you can hear all the Maidenisms between Niklas Stålvind and Johannes Axeman that remind of the classic Maiden duo of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith. Same thing goes for ‘Curse You Salem’, you listen to that guitar attack and it sounds just like Iron Maiden, if you switched in Bruce Dickinson at the mic, you would swear it was a long lost ’80s track from the NWOBHM pioneers. That doesn’t mean that the music is completely copycat or ripped off, the band is largely influenced from the classic metal period of the ’80s and they bring that forward in their playing. I find it refreshing actually…..there isn’t any growling or unintelligible singing and the drums don’t sound like a bunch of tin cans being tapped repeatedly, it sounds like good solid Metal. ‘Voodoo’ starts off with a simple riff and vocal intro that kicks into an evil groove that almost sounds like early L.A. Hard Rock like Motley Crue or W.A.S.P. but with a little more edge. The dual guitar melodies are there again and the trade-off solos are really great. This is definitely one of my favorites from the album.
More speedy Classic Metal/Power Metal comes with ‘Hail Caesar’, a song that has enough riffs to satisfy but the repetitive chorus is distracting, and ‘Ravenous’, that sounds like something out of the Hammerfall playbook with it’s big gang choruses and crashing drums. The middle solo in ‘Ravenous’ reminds me again of both Maiden and Priest guitar duos and it’s right at this moment that I think I’ve figured out that Niklas Stålvind’s vocals sound like a combination of Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Harnell (TNT) and Joacim Cans (Hammerfall)…..a weird combination but he does have that high vocal going. Another couple of favorites off the album are ‘Mr. Twisted’ and ‘Love At First Bite’. ‘Mr. Twisted’ has that Helloween influence to it but in more of a dark way kind of like the songs on Helloween’s 2000 album THE DARK RIDE while ‘Love At First Bite’ sounds like something Accept would have released back in the early days. Both songs have that European/German Metal influence and they sound full and powerful with big guitars. If there was a song on the album that I didn’t really get into it would be ‘Secrets We Keep’ because it pretty much sounds like the rest of the album and there really isn’t anything that really stands out for me except maybe the harmonized guitars for the solo.
‘Whisky Psycho Hellions’ brings back that dangerous/evil sound to the music as the song creeps along at a good pace and the vocals really add to the mood. The classic sounding guitars kick in for the chorus and solo giving it that dated ’80s feel but the drawback is the chorus itself with the shouting gang vocals that make it all sound distorted. I like the Doom laden opening to ‘Hiding In Shadows’ that kicks into a monster galloping riff that makes the song a driving force. It’s almost like a raw but powerful combination of classic ’80s L.A. Metal from the early Metal Blade roster mixed with Judas Priest. ‘Blood Angel’ opens with a subdued guitar intro that reminds me of an Ozzy ballad but the guitar quickly moves into the main riff that sounds more Hard Rock than Metal. The song has groove and bounces along with it’s simple riff and drum pattern while Stålvind lays down more of a Hard Rock vocal…..it all sounds like Accept or revved up Crue, maybe Ratt on steroids.
I got into Wolf late, somewhere around 2004 when they released EVIL STAR, but they have become one of those bands that I think are one of the most underrated in Metal. The band has a style that some say is dated but, in this current world of Metal, it’s actually refreshing. Classic Metal is what built all the other subgenres we have today and Wolf takes that influence and creates balls to the wall Metal. The Iron Maiden and Judas Priest influence is there in spades because of the dual guitars and the song structure but it’s hard to fault the band for following such a successful formula. RAVENOUS was released back in mid-February and it hasn’t left the regular rotation on my stereo or iPod. If you’re a fan of early ’80s Metal, Maiden, Priest, Helloween or Accept then RAVENOUS is definitely worth checking out. I own 4 out of 5 Wolf albums (missing 2006’s THE BLACK FLAME) and none have disappointed me yet.
‘Speed On’, ‘Voodoo’, ‘Mr. Twisted’, ‘Love At First Bite’, ‘Hiding In Shadows’, ‘Blood Angel’