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As much as I enjoy melodic keyboard-led power metal, brutal death metal, bands in minstrel clothes singing about elves and the ever-interesting chronicles of Devin Townsend, every now and then it’s great to just find a CD that screams “Metal!” at the top of its metaphorical voice and reminds me of exactly why I fell in love with the genre in the first place.
Metal Law’s full-length debut, ‘Night of the wolf’ is just one such CD, a back-to basics true metal offering of no frills riffing, over-the-top guitar solos and ludicrous lyrics that will have fans of classic German power metal and Manowar devotees salivating. As soon as the obligatory symphonic intro is blasted away by the opening riff of “Hunter and prey,” it’s clear that there will be no pretension and minimal pauses for breath from start to finish.
All the essentials of a proper true metal release – high energy speed frenzies, mid-tempo, fists-in-the-air anthems and an uplifting ballad - are to be found here. Metal Law have definitely set out with a blueprint in mind, and for the most part succeed with wonderful results. Clearly a crew of experienced musicians, most of the songs are tight and fluid, with the lead playing and solos particularly impressive. Frontman Karsten Degling is somewhat less impressive as a vocalist than a guitarist, however – he has a serviceable, workmanlike voice, but lacks any real range and is found wanting on occasion. The shrieks on “Slaying creature” sound very strained and serve as little more than an awkward distraction. On the whole, though, Degling holds his own, and while a better vocalist could certainly have improved the CD, he does little to damage it.
It has to be noted that there are a few other weak points to be found– mostly towards the start of the CD, strangely enough. “Hunter and prey” survives a pretty unimaginative chorus that knocks points off what could be a perfect opening song, and “Positive pain” plods along without really going anywhere. Some may find the utterly bizarre lyrics to “Thin guy” something of a turn off, but it shouldn’t be a major issue.
As the CD progresses, though, the music only goes from strength to strength – in “Raise your fist” and particularly “Metal or die,” there are 2 contrasting styles of anthem (think “Warriors of the world united” and “Heavy metal is the law,” respectively) that any fan of this branch of metal will fall in love with. The closing track, “Master of thunder” is a particularly strong point, showcasing everything that is good about the band in 7 minutes – strong melodies, heavy riffs and dramatic guitar solos.
There is nothing innovative whatsoever to be found on ‘Night of the wolf’ – but anyone who sees this a negative is clearly missing the point. As metal continues to expand and experiment, and as more and more bands clutter each subgenre at the expense of quality in favour of quantity, a reminder of where it all came from can be refreshing. Metal Law could have offered a more spectacular debut to be sure, but their collective heart is in the right place, and they have the skill, experience, and writing ability to back their intentions up. Something greater is definitely to be expected of this band.
(Originally written for http://www.metalcdratings.com)