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The extraordinary thing about Wolf’s second album isn’t that the best song is a Mercyful Fate song. Mercyful Fate actually succeeded in doing that on seven full-lengths, two EP:s, two singles – well every release they’ve done. No, the extraordinary thing is the vast amounts of appraisals they get while they don’t really deserve it. Sure, they can play. Sure, they play old-school heavy metal. Sure, they love the genre. The sad thing is that if you’ve heard one song – well then you’ve heard 40 minutes of the album – that is the entire album but the Mercyful Fate cover.
Tremolo picking, tremolo picking – they know how to that at least. Drums are sped up but monotonous. Guitars distorted to the level when they’ve not yet become dark but haven’t dropped the shiny part either. And what do I hear – isn’t that the good old heavy metal song concept? Tremolo, an occasional tap on another string, repeat two times, change key, riff, chord – and then a vocalist comes into the picture who isn’t your usual high-pitched man but an annoying nasal one. When he tries singing high the words get hard to distinguish from each other and the voice drowns in the music.
And it’s the same every song. Sure, they play fast, heavy old-school traditional metal. Sure, they’re one of the few bands doing so today. They’re probably the best band in the genre as we speak, but listening to the old-school material, which was actually released during the golden era, kicks this album’s ass, applies the whip harshly and remorselessly. Not that the songs aren’t high quality – they just sound the same. Listening to a random song at a random time, or in a V.A. compilation, surely works. Listening to the songs one and one sees the genius behind it all. But my attention span is way to short to listen to the same song over and over again, with new lyrics if I’m lucky. They don’t revolve about too many subjects.
Venom is an interesting song, being such a carried through one, tremolo, tremolo, tremolo… The rhythm is simplistic, yet addictive. It has great lyrics too, but the generally annoying vocals yet utterly and extremely poor this time. The rhythm and melody is, with few changes, kept in the next song which has the typical tremolo too, somewhat enfeebled though. And the chorus bear for a few seconds a resemblance with Blind Guardian! I tell you no shit, a lot of the bands we all love have been influential here (Maiden, Judas Priest, some more NWOBHM), yet Wolf wouldn’t like to be a complete rip-off, so they’ve done their changes, added a new sound façade. It’s just a shame that the copier manages to be on a level so far below that of the originals.
Do you like your drinks (and your metal) straight up? Hearing this band is a MUST for fans of traditional metal. Based on a couple of listens to the newest Iron Maiden album – A Dance with Death, this Wolf album rips, tears, shreds and devours the album from the beloved Brits and there is still space for seconds. I am not going to do a track by track analysis (although this album would easily lend itself to this kind of review) and instead I will discuss my sore ass. Starting with the first track Night Stalker (Skelator should sue!) the notes (already in boot form) commenced kicking my ass and didn’t stop until after the last track – A Dangerous Meeting (yep, it’s a Mercyful Fate cover). The album contains plenty of catchy melodies and familiar NWOBM riffage with a modern touch. The sound quality is crisp and everything sounds clear without any instrument being too pronounced. The singer Niklas Olsson’s voice has its own recognizable characteristic and is ideal for the band’s sound. Shit, I don’t even know if I wan’t to listen to Kind Diamond sing A Dangerous Meeting again. This man is on key!
To roll all of the words above into a neat little headline: Modern Swedish band gives traditional metal a shot of “welcome to the new millennium-adyl”.
Try playing that Wolf CD in the middle of a Maiden, Accept, Saxon, Mercyful Fate marathon. That is if you’re into that kind of thing, oldtimer.