Overall Score: 8/10 NWOBHM Glory: 9/10 Anthems Galore: 8/10 Invention: 6/10 Pros: A superb and seemingly endless supply of 4-5 minute heavy metal tracks Cons: Not much new to report here!
The mighty Wolf is at the door and about to set loose album number nine! Shadowland sees the ever-resilient Swedish four-piece return with traditionally rooted and nonsense-free heavy metal.
We’ve given the game away here; Wolf have compiled another tasty selection of tunes that won’t win them any awards for innovation or pushing the musical boundaries. And that is what we want from this band, who are approaching their 25th Anniversary. Check out the album artwork by Thomas Holm. If that doesn’t tell you what to expect, we don’t know what else to say to you.
If we rewind about 15 years or so, there were “New waves of this…” and “Revivals of that…” everywhere. There were bands like Cauldron and Enforcer reproducing NWOBHM to perfection and thrashers like Evile and Municipal Waste bringing back the hi-tops and snapbacks of the mid-80s. Wolf probably benefited from that period like no other, but they were around long before it was cool to be retro, and they are still here when it’s not all that cool anymore. Who wants to be cool though?! Not us, we like screaming riffs and solos.
Powerful and galloping guitar anthems are what Wolf deal in. The kind of joyful and care-free headbangers that Iron Maiden seem to have long forgotten how to write. They give equal nods to the NWOBHM heyday and the more straight-laced punch of Motörhead. Niklas Stalvind’s vocals are powerful but not overly operatic as he soars over the pounding gritty riffs from the rest of his band.
The storming opener of Dust and follow up Visions For The Blind really sets the pace on Shadowland as they thunder away like a beast unleashed. It won’t be surprising to fans of Wolf that there are no ballads or slow numbers on Shadowland. It’s wall-to-wall heavy metal. The Time Machine comes next and if it’s variation you are after, then this is as much as you’ll find. This one is a bit bouncier and maybe even groovier in some places, but it still jabs you straight between the eyeballs.
The bass-heavy title track gives Pontus Egberg an opportunity to put his legendary stamp on proceedings, while two tracks from the second half of the album go full-on Judas Priest. Exit Sign and The Ill-fated Mr Mordrake both shine in splendid unashamed 80s metal fury.
If a superb and seemingly endless supply of four-five minute heavy metal tracks sounds right up your street, then Shadowland will be the perfect soundtrack to your Friday night. It can’t really be said that there’s much new here from Wolf, but what you do get is top-notch music from these old war hounds of heavy metal.
Shadowland releases April 1 via Century Media Records.
For more information on Wolf, like their offical page on Facebook.