Released: 2013, Indie
I’m mildly surprised that we have never reviewed a Leatherwolf album here at Metal-Rules.com. It has been six years since their last studio album, NEW WORLD ASYLUM, which was just a re-recording of their 2006 album, WORLD ASYLUM. They are back with a new, Live album, their third live release of their career.
UNCHAINED LIVE has a killer, absolutely killer piece of cover art, far superior to the weak cover art than the last Live album, WIDE OPEN from 1999. The album was released independently and is an unfortunately short nine songs running only 43 Minutes. There is one bonus track a studio cut called ‘Black Knight’ but even that is just a re-record version that originally appeared on their third album, STREET READY, way back in 1989. There have been a number of changes since the last album with two new guitarists and a bassist joining the fold of the core of drummer, Dean Roberts and vocalist, Michael Oliveri.
On this album, the crowd is loud and upfront in the mix, giving it a good honest live feel, in fact the sound is fantastic all the way through. The set list spans all their albums, leaning a little heavier on their biggest album, STREET READY. I’m glad they included ‘Kill And Kill Again’ from the debut and Oliveri can still hit those notes! His voice has always been a major asset for the band. The debut was by far the heaviest and most ‘Metal’ of their albums so it was nice to see it get some representation early on in the set-list. As I said, the album sounds good, almost a little too good, but they did have some top-notch production help from three titans of the industry, Michael Kramer, Roy Z and Tom Baker. How untouched is this? Well, lets give the veteran band the benefit of the doubt and say that after 30 years they are seasoned professionals on stage and leave it at that. The individual performances are excellent, the band is tight and bring a new, heavier dimension to the songs from the major label albums, which were admittedly a bit over-produced. Production levels from 20+ years ago aside, the band always had a skill for writing god songs and that is what has stood the test of time. The album was recorded at a few different shows on their 2013 tour and picks the best of the best.
Leatherwolf has been around for over 30 years and have only managed to make four albums, five if you count the remake. Some may think my rating of 4/5 (every Metal fan should own this) might be a bit high, but I’m confident that LIVE UNCHAINED could win the band a lot of new fans and the loyalists will enjoy having it in their collection. This a really solid and enjoyable Live album that will serve well as a reminder of a once (and still) great band and with any luck an introduction to some new fans.