WOLF - Evil Star

Wolf - Evil Star

12 songs
57:28 minutes
***** *****


If this were a vinyl LP, and you were to find it in a second hand bin, you'd probably think this was an overlooked early-80s metal album. Big metallic letters on just as big wolf claws, all in front of something like an elephant skin. But do read on, because although Wolf are another band having a take at melodic old school metal, they do it with infinitely more class and perfection than any other band I can think of, and that's no exaggeration.

The opener Evil Star is so unbelievably fantastic that you have to travel back to the late mid-Eighties to find a single song topping it. It's just continuing where bands like Helstar and Heathen stopped in their prime. Melodic yet fast, with a glass clear production (courtesy of Peter Tägtren of Hypocrisy fame), and an unusual instrumentation: Wolf is a three-piece, which leaves a lot of room for the bass player, who immediately grabs the chance and amazes with a Steve Harris-like melodic playing. The end of the song is dominated by a Twilight Zone guitar harmony which the first time I listened to it made me put that song on endless repeat.

The next two songs, American Storm and The Avenger, are nearly as great, again using about 6 minutes of running time to show the young kids today what was so great about metal back in the 80s. Where Hammerfall and countless other true metal bands sounds as if they were paying tribute to a movement they were too young to participate in, Wolf have more a middle-finger attitude and just act as if this were 1985. Not all the songs can achieve this incredible quality, but most bands can't even write one song coming close to the playing level you get on Evil Star.

The album ends with three cover versions, two of which are bonus tracks (in addition to what? the Swedish edition?). You can discuss about the utility of such an endeavor, but when an album is running for nearly one hour, what's the deal with the last quarter being songs by other people. All three of them ((Don't Fear) The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult, Die By The Sword by Slayer and I'm Not Afraid Of Life by the Ramones) are done with much love for detail, and the fact alone that the original versions are from all kinds of different styles (rock, thrash, punk) proves that Wolf's horizon is much wider than average. Not that they ever sound like a crossover act, but the freshness with which they combine mid-80s speed metal with catchy melodies, all served with great bass lines, and a clear-voiced singer who masters the skill of neither sounding effeminate nor operatic.

If you only decide to buy one real metal album this year, it definitely has to be this one. Maximum rating!

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