Black Wings

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After an absolutely stellar year 2000, Wolfe's eponymous debut had seen them bursting out of the gate in seemingly unstoppable fashion, Swedish vintage metal enthusiasts Wolf came back for a second go-round with 2002's Black Wings -- a still quite inspired collection of updated New Wave of British Heavy Metal anthems lacking only a few ingredients to match its predecessor. Specifically, Black Wings occasionally failed to ignite the same sense of excitement and danger so effortlessly displayed by the band's first set of songs. Maybe it was the new album's slightly more polished production standards, maybe it was the band's desire for a mainstream hit, or perhaps it was simply the price of increased maturity costing them that extra bit of crackle and pop. But whatever the reason, new, efficient and hard-charging compositions like "Night Stalker," "Demon Bell," and "A World Bewitched" seemed to leave just a little to be desired. That's not to say, of course, that some of the other offerings on hand didn't find Wolf managing to bang heads with a vengeance: churning out a Judas Priest-styled winner in "Venom," mustering a masterful slice of Maiden-esque galloping for the impressive "The Curse of Unholy Night," and conjuring up a pair of positively scorching, bona fide metal classics in "I Am the Devil" and "Genocide." Capping it all off, they also whipped out a surefire crowd-pleasing cover of Mercyful Fate's "A Dangerous Meeting" to bring proceedings to an end -- a move that will probably single-handedly redeem Black Wings' minor deficiencies in the eyes of most of their fans.

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