|Wolf - 'Legions Of Bastards' (Century Media)|
|Written by David Whistance|
|Sunday, 24 April 2011 05:00|
In the last decade there has been one metal band that stands head and shoulders above the rest for yours truly, the name of that band is of course... Wolf. I would even go as far as saying their 2006 opus 'The Black Flame' is one of my all time favourite metal albums, a mean feat in itself. But enough about the past, as any metal fan worth their salt would know that these metal Swedes are about to release their 6th album, the wonderfully titled 'Legions Of Bastards.'
As the band launch into opening track 'Vicious Companions' a ferocious metal beast of a number you quickly realise that the band have created yet another fine slab of metal. The single factor that differentiates Wolf from the various other European Metal bands that I have reviewed in the past is they keep to the winning formula that made us older metal fans fall in love with the genre in the first place, the frantic guitar work of guitarist Johannes 'Axeman' Losback, the soaring voice of vocalist Niklas Stalvind, along with a pulverising rhythm section of bassist Anders Mood and drummer Richard Holmgren. They don't feel they need to add horrendous bursts of keyboards and additional overblown choirs to make the album "different."
Even though the band have experienced a number of line up changes over the years I believe the current band (that also recorded the 'Ravenous' album) is the best incarnation of Wolf and hopefully will remain stable for the foreseeable future. That is not to say the album sounds dated in any way, on the contrary the band have managed to deliver another fresh, dynamic Metal masterpiece but when you have a metal vocalist as great as Niklas Stalvind then you can't expect any less. I haven't enjoyed a Metal vocalist this much since first hearing Michael Kiske on Helloween's 'Keeper Of The Seven Keys' and just like Kiske, Niklas Stalvind vocal style remains unique, whenever you hear a Wolf track you instantly know the name of the band unlike a lot of other vocalists in today's field that frankly sound far too similar to one another.
I once read an interview with Niklas where he was asked how he would describe Wolf and he replied "Heavy Metal" and I ask you is there a track any more Heavy Metal than 'Skull Crusher'? A self-explanatory piece of crushing modern metal. Whether or not 'Full Moon Possession' is a tongue in cheek take on the band's moniker or just another great piece of metal I can't confirm.
I once met Niklas at the UK's Bloodstock festival and instantly transformed into drunken fan boy, what I did take away from our encounter was that Niklas was a quietly spoken, polite young man and it was hard to recognise him on stage the following day leading his metal brigade with those mighty vocals, which is basically a cheap introduction to the track 'Jekyll And Hyde' a future Wolf classic exploring one mans double persona, that I feel will possibly be a live favourite on this years festival circuit.
Whether the band wrote 'Absinthe' after their experiences with the deadly liqueur I cannot say but what I do know is if the band witness the green fairy it's sure to be wearing denim and leather after hearing this tune. I can't help but envisage the mighty Judas Priest with the dual guitar assault of 'Nocturnal Rites' and if this is the 'Road To Hell' then get me a ticket.
Last time I recall a song in the Metal genre about a submarine it was the ludicrous, oral sex inspired number 'Dive, Dive, Dive' featuring one of the worst lyrics ever "No muff too tough" which as a self confessed Maiden fanatic I had to hold my head in shame on hearing, thankfully then Wolf close with an inspired track written about the Russian submarine namely 'K-141 Kursk' which is a perfect swan song to another fine metal album.
With 'Legions Of Bastards' Wolf have managed to once again produce a near perfect album of traditional Heavy Metal. Forget the style over substance bands favoured by the so called Metal press and get your hands on a copy of this baby if you want to hear real music played the way Ronnie intended.