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The new Wolf album, I hate to say, is a slight step backwards for the band. The songs are still catchy, the riffs are still good, yet… it’s no Black Flame. The production is still as good, if not better, but the songs are less memorable in spite of this.
The strong point of the album is definitely the lead guitars. Every song has at least one solo, and the lead work in these sections is as stellar as ever for Wolf. The non-solo leads are incredible as well, especially on “Curse you Salem” at the beginning of the track. Other songs with great solos would be “Mr. Twisted”, “Whisky Psycho Hellions”, and “Hiding in Shadows”.
There is a slight decline in the quality of the riffs, not to say that the riffs on this album are not awesome, just not up to par with the previous album. They tend to be a bit slower and more deliberate. “Speed On” has a very driving power riff that does a great job starting things off, and they keep them coming with great consistency. I could swear that I’ve heard the main riff for “Hail Caesar” somewhere else, but regardless it works for that song, and they really kick it into something pretty heavy at the end of the track, probably the most headbang-worthy section on the album. I also found the riffs for “Love at First Bite” and “Blood Angel” to be very heavy and enjoyable.
Vocally, Niklas still has it going on. I could not detect a change in his style on this release, other than the fact that he hits the really high notes less often than I’m used to. This makes his high-end vocals a little more appreciable because they are used more sparsely, and I still firmly believe that he is one of the better singers out there. Lyrically this album is very diverse, but generally deals with cool themes like dark magic and beasts coming out of the shadows to get you!
The choruses are where the most noticeable drop-off occurs. Whereas on Black Flame they were memorable and stuck in your head regardless of whether you liked them, the chorus sections on Ravenous generally are very mediocre and forgettable. On “Whisky Psycho Hellions”, the chorus is so tedious that I was tempted to turn my stereo off and go read a book or something. The chorus section on “Mr. Twisted” is the exception for me, I really enjoyed that one. Overall though, less catchy and enjoyable choruses. I really cringe when a band sings about “It’s my life/ I do what I want!/ It’s my life/ I do what I feel!”, like on the last track, angst has no place in a Wolf song.
The wild card on this album is the third track, Voodoo. This song is an anomaly, a bluesy-feeling song that only a band as comfortable in their metalhood as Wolf could make with any real confidence. This is probably the most fun I’ve ever had listening to a Wolf track, and it’s all about reasons the average person might need to utilize this black art. Seriously, after the first time you hear this song you will not be able to resist singing along with it. It’s got this subdued and simple riff, Niklas really doesn’t cut loose for most of the song, and the solo is kind of slow. But it fucking rules! This track alone added 10% to my review score, it’s that good. Even if you found the rest of the album to be disappointing, “Voodoo” will make this album a worthwhile investment.
So, in short, Wolf fucking keep it real, and they keep it real metal. Just because their previous album was better should not deter you from picking this one up as well, you won’t regret it.