Keep Metal Alive
11/23/2004 - Review by: Eric ComptonWolfs Moon - Keep Metal Alive 2004 MDD Records
"I Still Believe In Rock & Roll"
"I Still Believe In Metal"
"I Still Believe In A Headbanging Crew"
"I Still Believe In You"
Belting from the speakers is the true metal chant, a call to arms like never before. Germany's finest troops, Wolfs Moon, are sent to the front again, keeping metal alive and staging a new assault on the senses. These guys have been keeping metal alive for years, with "Keep Metal Alive" being the band's sixth studio record and first for MDD Records, a division of Mausoleum Records. Its great to see Sammy and company pick up a record label, with all the prior albums being funded at the band's expense. This unit has worked hard for years, and have spent a lot of their own money trying to get themselves established in Europe. Now, with a label backing them, the Wolfpack are back in action, and dare I say, better than before.
This time around the band seem to have better production, with this album absolutely loud from beginning to end. Maxe's vocal range has changed somewhat, allowing for a more distinct identity at the front. The vocals are drifting from mid-range to highs, with the group's prior records really staying true to form and allowing Maxe to stay mid-level throughout. Now he mixes it up a bit, and really improves the overall delivery of the group's material. Along with the change in distribution and sound comes a change at bass as well, with Pete leaving and being replaced by newcomer Marco. I've always loved Wolfs Moon's grinding sound, really sounding like prime Sabbath meets true metal, with Pete's bass rumbling an important key for this band's signature. Marco has picked up where Pete left off, really sounding crystal clear on this recording, grinding along like Geezer Butler or DD Verni.
"KMA" is by far the band's best work in my opinion, with all of these tracks sticking to the concept story created on the band's third effort. For those of you unaware of the storyline, guitarist Sammy Simpson has created an extraordinary world centered around a superhero named The Duke. The story reads like a comic book arc, with The Duke rising from a place called Elysium to do battle with all sorts of sadistic creatures. This time around The Duke finds himself in a wasteland fighting vampires and other creatures of the dark. After the group's last effort, "Black Knight Legacy", it looked like The Duke had met his end. Now he is "reborn with a black heart", ready to punish those unfortunate enough to cross his path.
As I mentioned earlier, this album is just loud. Pretty simple really, just a bassist, guitarist, drummer, and vocalist, but these four individuals can make a whole lot of noise. Think of Teutonic warriors like Wizard or Grave Digger crossed with the basic fundamentals of Sabbath and you get Wolfs Moon. Cuts like "Reborn With A Black Heart" and "Power And Disaster" have that classic German power sound, not really a speed racer by any means, but still fairly quick and heavy on the trigger. "I Still Believe In Metal" is a true metal anthem, while "Vampire Wasteland" runs through mid-era Overkill. Sammy's guitar playing is an overwhelming joy, sounding stripped down and raw with little to no effects added. His tone really reminds me of Tony Iommi in its raw fury, never allowing the mechanics of it all to ruin the blue collar feel. The drums seem to have improved as well, with Andi's heavy hitting sounding way more up front in the mix.
I've always considered these guys to be one of the best band's Europe has to offer. Unfortunately the band has never really caught on the way they should, and Wolfs Moon is still underground even for the underground. It never seemed to matter to these guys, as the group continues to put out quality records time and time again. "KMA" is no exception, living up to the standards of prior records and taking the band into a whole new playing field with more exposure and a bigger budget. Highly recommended for fans of anything heavy and powerful! One of the year's best!
Choice Cuts - "I Still Believe In Metal", "Vampire Wasteland", "Reborn With A Black Heart", "Power And Disaster", "I Hate This Universe", and the "hidden track".
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