Legions Of Bastards
Century Media Records/E.M.I. Music Australia
Of all the bands carrying the flame of the old-school N.W.O.B.H.M. (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal)/traditional metal within the metal scene, Örebro (Sweden) based outfit Wolf has to be one of my personal favourites.
Over the last twelve years, Wolf have produced five full-length efforts, all of which have flown the flag of classic metal (Imagine Judas Priest meets Mercyful Fate), without sounding out of place within today’s metal scene.
Two years after 2009’s highly regarded ‘Ravenous’, the four piece act (Comprising of vocalist/guitarist Niklas Olsson, guitarist Johannes Losbäck, bassist Anders Modd and drummer Richard Holmgren) are back with their latest and sixth offering overall ‘Legions Of Bastards’. And as you would expect, it’s another slab of old-school heavy metal, with enough retro riffs, over-the-top solos and catchy (Sometimes cheesy) choruses to please fans of metal’s bygone classic era of the ‘80’s.
From the opening drum roll and the fast paced riffing that soon follows, it’s clear that ‘Vicious Companions’ is only the start of what is sure to be another classically inspired release from the band. Olsson’s vocals are perhaps a little raspier and rawer than usual, but it does give the band that little more aggression which wasn’t otherwise evident in the past. In terms of the overall song, there’s plenty of melodic lead work, and the chorus certainly leaps out at you, which is everything you would otherwise expect of a Wolf anthem.
The metallic inspired duo of ‘Skull Crusher’ and ‘Full Moon Possession’ are further favourites in the early half of the album, with their Judas Priest influences undeniably coming to the fore (Especially with the dual guitar work throughout, and Olsson’s higher end vocal performances during the choruses), while the serial killer themed ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ and ‘Tales From The Crypt’ slow the tempo down a gear, but still rock alongside the album’s opening trio of classics.
No Wolf album is a complete masterpiece, with the band’s back catalogue producing its fair share of lacklustre efforts amongst the gems. And in that regard, ‘Legions Of Bastards’ is no exception. Although sounding O.K. when listening to the album as a whole, individually, both ‘Absinthe’ and ‘Nocturnal Rites’ seem to lack that something to make them really stand out against the stronger tracks. Having said that, both do have some great riffing and solos, it’s just that they don’t come across as inspired around the choruses.
Aside from a couple of fillers around the midway mark, the remainder of ‘Legions Of Bastards’ is all killer, with the energetic ‘Road To Hell’, the lyrically biting ‘False Preacher’, the shredding ‘Hope To Die’ and the epic ‘K-141 Kursk’ (Which is based on the tragic Russian submarine accident from 2000) giving the album a much needed kick and some consistency toward the tail end.
‘Legions Of Bastards’, much like Wolf’s last few releases, is an absolutely fun listen, and a total blast of classic heavy metal. In other words, Wolf’s latest is well and truly recommended for metalhead’s of the old-school.
For more information on the Wolf, check out - http://www.wolf.nu/
© Justin Donnelly