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Edge Not Needed - 93%

Sweetie, September 30th, 2020

Wolf was a blip on the NWOBHM radar that came and went before they really had a shot at any kind of fame. The discography includes one demo in ‘82 and a full-length in ‘84, and that's all she wrote. The latter is what I’m here to discuss, because it’s an incredible gem that was not only overlooked, but also could have been huge if the spotlight was kinder to it. Edge Of The World is the name, and it falls on the warmer edge of the NWOBHM spectrum.

I say “warmer” simply because of its calmer delivery and overly welcoming vocals. The first thing that comes to mind is Def Leppard’s On Through The Night, but with guitars that are way undercooked. Melody dominates the entire disc, with concise vocals that latch themselves onto a vibrant scale of rhythms. I wouldn’t say that there’s much in the vein of mean riffs, but the production gives them a firm ground to reflect back the solid leads. This certainly allows for loads of bounciness, much like the faster but steady picking behind the chorus of “Shock Treatment.”

This approach also generates songs that almost feel like a metal-coated rock ‘n roll song. “Highway Rider” has some serious mid-era Beatles energy. “A Soul For The Devil” is also loads of fun, as it changes the entire mood by adding crawling synth under slower guitars and a vocally focused passage. Closer “Medicine Man” is a strong ballad with great harmony and works as side-B’s version of “A Soul For The Devil.” Weirdly enough, you’d expect an effort like this to drop some eerie toppings, but even “Rest In Peace” doesn’t inject the spoopiness that the lyrics would suggest. That may sound like a complaint, but I think that helps set a very common style like this apart some.

With that being said, those going into Edge Of The World looking for the Venom or Angel Witch hybrids of NWOBHM are going to be disappointed. The only hint of anything aggressive would be the speed metal banger “Red Lights” near the end. Had there been more coverage, Wolf could have been the perfect band that ties together the likes of Dokken and Demon, and I can’t appreciate this buried gem enough.

Originally written for Sleeping Village

Forgotten Gem of NWOBHM - 97%

Troodon_metallicus, June 17th, 2015

Many NWOBHM bands were awesome, but didn’t make it far. Wolf (not to be mistaken with an awesome Swedish band that also happens to be called Wolf) is one of those bands who recorded awesome stuff, but never became well-known. Still, that should not prevent us from enjoying those lesser known bands and their albums. Edge of the World is one of such albums. Forgotten gem, like I said in the title? No doubt about it.

This album has one similarity to Herman Frank’s Right in the Guts, which I’ve already had a pleasure of reviewing: it’s consistently great. There’s a lot of variety on this album: some songs are fast (Highway Rider, Red Lights), others are slower (A Soul for the Devil), while the title track starts off slow, then morphs into something more upbeat, but every track is worth your time. Whether it’s a riff or a solo, something the singer does or something completely else, each track contains something that draws your attention, so you cannot go wrong with this. Speaking of the singer, he’s one of the best singers I’ve had a pleasure to hear among NWOBHM singers. He has a great voice and he knows how to use it. Production is standard for that time: a bit raw, but that’s what gave many other albums from that time a lot of charm; this album is not an exception. If this album were overpolished like, for instance, Def Leppard, it would be completely ruined.

A few tracks do happen to stand out: Highway Rider, that also happened to be released as a single (albeit at the time when the band was called Black Axe); Heaven Will Rock ‘n’ Roll, what happens to be arguably the catchiest track; A Soul for the Devil, that has a prominent atmospheric element. But it would be wrong to ignore the rest of the album: Head Contact has one of the most convincing riffs I’ve heard. All in all, I failed to find any flaw to the album.

I’ll keep it short: I sincerely recommend this album and, trust me, you WILL keep returning to it. Like I said, it can be rightfully considered a gem. Not only among NWOBHM albums, but among heavy metal albums in general, or even among music albums per se.

Obscure album - 83%

Tzitzis, December 24th, 2014
Written based on this version: 1984, 12" vinyl, Mausoleum Records

Ok, this is my first review on a full length release. I just listened to this album and said what the hell, I 'll give it a shot. Wolf, formerly known as Black Axe recorded "Edge of the World" back in 1982 although it wasn't released until 1984. I will say two things; First I underestimated this band and it was not until recently that I gave a listen to their work. Secondly, I do not really know whether I like this or not, so instead of babbling I will cut to the chase and talk about the record. Here we go.

I have to say, this is a quite an obscure and interesting album. This album has such an interesting sound because it consists of both melancholic and cheerful songs. I mean, just listen to "Too Close for Comfort" (cheerful song) and compare it to "Medicine Man" (melancholic song). The main reason for this is the vocalist. His vocals fill the music in a weird and magnificent way and this is the key of this record, this is what defines it and makes it stand out among a lot of other NWOBHM releases. Another weird thing about this album is that I love the choruses, but I'm not excited about the main riffs. The record contains some absolute classics though ("Edge of the World", "Heaven Will Rock n Roll", "Rest in Peace" and "Red Lights").

As soon as I heard the first three songs of this record, I was convinced that this is a skilled band. First of all you have the twin guitars shredding their way into your mind. These guitarists know their stuff. Exceptional riffing, amazing solos - really I can't say which one is the best - and the best part; there is melody in there too! This duo is amazing. The riffs are heavy, the licks are perfect and make the songs unique. As for the soloing, you will lose yourself in their power, their melody. They are exceptional solos, each one of them! I can't wait to listen to them one more time. As for the bass player, he is the fourth bassist I CAN hear and like in NWOBHM (with the other 3 being Steve Harris, Steve Dawson and Kevin Riddles). There are some nice bass lines in the album (listen to "A Soul for the Devil"). Drums ain't nothing exceptional, but carry you through the record. There is extended use of synth in the album, which I can't say I like. Although in some occasions, it sound very good (for example "Edge of the World"). The singer has a very distinct voice. He has an amazing talent, he is so melodic and makes any song he sings his own. All of the aforementioned make this band so unique and so obscure, for me at least. Each element of this band is great, although I don't like it altogether.

All in all, this is a solid NWOBHM album, has a great musical diversity in its songs. It's a must have classic for every NWOBHM fan, although I can't say I like it so much. It has its moments no doubt about that, but ... I don't know. I'm keeping 4 songs for my collection of NWOBHM; "Edge of the World", "Heaven Will Rock n Roll", "Rest in Peace" and "Red Lights". It ain't that bad. It's just that this isn't my standard NWOBHM. It's a band that never got to be known as other bands. They are more talented and skilled than others that's for sure. It's a shame they didn't release anything else after this record. They had potential. I recommend this to anyone, I think it's a unique release in the whole NWOBHM movement. Enjoy!

Rock On!

The Creme de la Creme of NWOBHM - 91%

DeathRiderDoom, March 14th, 2010

#41 In My NWOBHM Rarities Review Series

Wolf aka Black Axe was a band that experienced the all-too common gauntlet of label problems and bad-luck throughout their career, which seemed to blanket that heyday known as the NWOBHM. Though a well-versed, veteran, and obviously brilliant songwriting troupe – success on the scale of Samson, Avenger or Venom eluded this strong Carlisle-based act. Forming in 1977 under the moniker of Leviathan, by a group of talented young men – somewhat akin in this aspect to fellow greats Savage, the band honed their chops for several years before re-branding as Black Axe, and producing the strong, promising ‘Highway Rider’ single. Riding on the popularity of this single, which garnered strong sales, things were looking up for Wolf, who were bussed into the studio to record one helluva memorable slice of NWOBHM, before running into problems with, and eventually being axed by their stable, leaving the master tapes to collect dust for a few years, before finally being re-issued by European stable Mausoleum.

What was contained therein, was a stellar, pinnacle effort from an above average NWOBHM collective. Not only did Wolf manage to squeeze out a full-length (something which seems to have eluded 50% of the coattail riding, pubescent bandwagoniers that characterized the movement), but they managed one which could inspire jealousy from almost all bands in the scene. ‘Edge of the World’ is a stunning blend of Savage-esque attitude and toughness, mixed with dazzling displays of dirty Anvil/Ace Frehley-esque guitar squeals, and an almost unattainable understanding of thick, rich vocal melodies and hooks, matched by solid production and thorough originality. This record is just about the epitome of that classic NWOBHM sound. All-round musicianship, crisp vocal melodies, and an unfaltering lineup of songs means this one will remain part of the crème de la crème of NWOBHMs output forever.

With such a consistent lineup of tracks, it’s hard to pick favourites, but the opener ‘Edge of the World’ is enough to coat my leathery skin with goose bumps at almost every given opportunity. Featuring the smooth, commanding presence of Simon Sparkes and Bill Keir’s guitar work, which comes across as clear as day, (especially for a NWOBHM work recorded this early), and a bold, confident and passionate delivery by the ever-capable Chris English – this one sets the tone for one heck of a professional, and talented album. Chris English’s chorus delivery, intertwined with the tearful, epic guitar licks of Sparkes (who often sounds akin to early Anvil work or Ace Frehley’s nastier moments from KISS or Frehley’s Comet) combine for a really strong effort. This track has etched itself into my brain, and while probably the favourite, doesn’t stand too far out, as the whole album is as solid as diamond, and should be about as precious as the stone to true NWOBHM collectors.

‘Too Close for Comfort’ is another stellar piece, this time retaining a strong 70’s rock feel, drawing comparisons somewhat to Blue Oyster Cult meets Quartz. The main riff in this one is so catchy and memorable it will become part of your DNA, while a solid boogie-rock style lead section gives us touches of E.F. Band and Predatur. Typical of this release, Wolf continues to dominate in the realm of vocal layers. Strong harmonies and massive hooks in the chorus will knock you to the floor with their brilliance. In a similar vein is the stunner ‘Heaven Will Rock N Roll’ –yet another in an album of stunners. A straightforward structure here, is used to execute an absolutely memorable track, with a massive chorus hook, peppered with beautiful guitar licks.

Another stunner is ‘Red Light’ a ruckus, high-speed assault with a distorted, nasty riff aspect, and vocal mating which draws comparison to Deep Purple’s opus ‘Highway Star’, and may remind one again of E.F. Band or Tranzzam. Throughout this sordid, high-paced, snarling assault though, Wolf doesn’t abandon it’s signature vocal harmony domination, and we are treated to a doozie to close out this strong track. ‘Medicine Man’ an odd, original track, is by no means a favourite of mine (due to the sheer rock solid nature of this bundle of excellent cuts), but it again, is highly memorable. The addition of Bill Keir’s keys here, mixed with the slower, more soulful delivery of Chris English’s (again flawless) vocals, and a more relaxed, passionate and simplistic guitar style, give an almost Saracen-esque feel. English’s vocal melodies matched with the slower pace, give an almost Beatlesish feel too, which is quite odd – though not unusual for NWOBHM (see Masai, Ethel the Frog). In any case, these are two tracks of differing styles, and though they might not be my two favourites are incredible tracks –attesting to the consistency of the work.

To conclude – a powerful, and utterly amazing NWOBHM album; this one basically serves as a testament to how strong a caliber of music can be made using the “standard NWOBHM sound.” Yes, before you bite my head off, of course there are other great albums/bands, even ones of this caliber, but often they used different sounds. Maiden wrote material of this caliber (perhaps better), but they done it with their own, unique metal style that at the time bore little resemblance to the other bands emerging at the time. Saracen also done it, but with their own unique, 70s progressive rock influenced NWOBHM. In my opinion, Wolf has more semblance to that “typical” NWOBHM sound and while being somewhat unique, are more readily identifiable with [i]the[/i] sound of the movement. In any case this is absolutely essential NWOBHM that every fan of the genre needs to get. It has it all really, including an uncanny knack for longevity, as I have spun it many times, and I still get blown away by it, and thoroughly enjoy it every time. Stunning NWOBHM.