5/15/2009 - Review by: Raising Iron
Hard to believe it's been ten years now since their debut, but Wolf continues to speed on with their fifth and latest release, Ravenous. Despite numerous lineup changes throughout the years – there's been a revision between every album! – founder/singer Niklas Stalvind continues to write the best damn straight up heavy metal this side of the 1980's. Niklas is the only founding member left now that bassist Mikael Goding has left, being replaced by Tad Morose bassist Anders Modd. Johannes Losback is still on guitar from 2006's The Black Flame, but another change of the drum stool finds Richard Holmgren of Haterush perched behind the skins.
Onto the current platter, and Wolf deliver their signature traditional, twin guitar attack, with singer Niklas' vocals, although residing in a slightly lower register than their earlier output, continuing to cut through the meat with his trademark tone. The album jumps out of the gate with "Speed On", and races non-stop to the end. Overall, things are a bit more mid-paced here, settling into an even more classic heavy metal construct than the sometimes speedier fare found on some of their other releases. Mercyful Fate's Hank Sherman lends a solo to the title track, and "Love at First Bite", with guest backing vox by none other than Mark Boals, is sure to become a standard live, as well could "Mr. Twisted" or "Secrets We Keep". Really, any of these songs could find themselves to the stage, as there isn't a clunker in the bunch. Neither the injection of new blood nor the three year hiatus since their last disc has had an adverse effect on the writing. "Whiskey Psycho Hellions" has a great sing-along chorus that those of us drinkers can certainly relate to, and closing track, "Blood Angel", while certainly not a ballad by any stretch, ends the album with an unusually somber flair. The now infamous Roy Z is behind the mixing board, lending his exacting standards to the genre he's tied closest to, hence there's no disappointment there.
All in all, if you like any of Wolf's previous output, it's a guarantee you're going to like this one as well. If you're a fan of old school heavy metal, and not yet familiar with these Swedes, tear your claws into this disc and feast on the bloody songs, lest ye find yourself ravenous!
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