Wolf are a band that somehow still sound as fresh and exciting as they always have, many years down the line. They are instantly recognisable, yet play such a traditional form of straight-edged Heavy Metal revered by fans all over the world, that it seems almost impossible that this Swedish Metal force have managed to find their own niche in this wonderfully overcrowded mighty genre. Wolf just seem to hit that note that resonates with so many Metal fans everywhere, drawing in devotees from many other Metal genres that when questioned why, can only nail it down to it just being…Wolf.
And Wolf are back once more, rejuvenated and re-energised with a new, yet experienced rhythm section drawn from some of Sweden’s best – Pontus Egberg (King Diamond, Kryptonite etc) on bass and drummer Johan Koleberg (ex-Therion, ex-Hammerfall ex-Lion’s Share etc). If you are listening for it, this change might just have given the band a slightly heavier edge, but if you were unaware, well, it’s just another chapter in Wolf’s impressive Metal story isn’t it? And of course the burning question that most people reading this will want to know is whether there has been a shift in direction, a nudge away from the style that has served them so well over the last twenty years or so? Nah – it’s Wolf, Niklas Stålvind belting it out over catchy Metal-as-you-like riffs, sparkling solos, pounding drums, driving bass and an underlying, unrelenting quality of Wolf-ness. Heavy Metal as it always was, but being driven by bands like Wolf ever-forward into yet another glorious decade.
The tempos skip effortlessly from fast to slow, song to song, with the energy and power unrelenting, each track standing alone yet blending perfectly with its neighbour, nailing themselves forcefully to the ever-growing wall of Wolf accomplishments. No need to pick out individual tracks, no need to over-analyse – just sit back and enjoy. The new line-up works as it should and fits perfectly, and yes there is possibly that added rhythmic heaviness at times, but that just adds another extra dimension to the album, like something that no-one realised was needed until it was there and just seems to work as if it was always just part of the plan. Yep, Wolf are back at full strength – still fresh and exciting, yet world-wise and mature…and of course, utterly Heavy Metal.
(8.5/10 Andy Barker)