The boys in Wolf have been rocking Sweden with their old school style of straight up heavy metal since 1995. And yet so few have actually heard of them. They’ve been quietly releasing albums every few years to some critical acclaim, some critical disdain, and largely insignificant sales. They have been accused of being Iron Maiden rip-off artists, and lambasted for their anti-piracy stance. But they keep on coming back in their denim and studs and rocking out another album, another EP, and another concert in another city. And they have done so with a fiery passion for playing their music how they want to that it’s impossible to deny them respect.
Putting on a Wolf record like EVIL STAR is like jumping into a time machine, careening into the early 80’s at hyper-speed. If you put EVIL STAR on between your Saxon and Accept records it would not sound out of place in the least. From the catchy and cleanly executed single note riffing/harmonizing and the vocal style of singer Nick Olsson to the rocking-hard-while-not-being-overtly-flashy drumming of Daniel Bergkvist, Wolf obviously have in mind one vision. And that is to simply bang your head and rock your socks. Unlike most other bands who attempt this style of 80’s metal they do not go the route of swords and sorcery lyrics, which is very refreshing. The themes largely revolve around darkness, insanity, and general evil in classic terms while not being so dark as to become menacing, thusly removing from the overall rocking feel.
The highlight of the album for me is “The Avenger”, with an incredible breakdown involving cowbell. We all know the SNL-inspired cliché these days, but bands really need to have a cowbell breakdown more often. That’s why it comes as such a surprise when at the end of the album, with their cover of Blue Oyster Cult’s classic track “Don’t Fear The Reaper” that the SNL skit of fame was inspired by there is a complete lack of cowbell! It may have been a conscious effort to avoid the jokes that would inevitably result, but “Don’t Fear The Reaper” just aint “Don’t Fear The Reaper” without that wicked cowbell rocking. It’s good to know that Wolf is out there keeping the vanguard and holding the standard of true metal 80’s style for all of us, because they do it and they do it right without ever being ironic or contrived.
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