Wolf

Wolf

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As reflected by the evocative simplicity of their name, Sweden's Wolf are a throwback to an earlier, simpler time, when the New Wave of British Heavy Metal was defining most of the sub-genres (speed, black, etc.) still very much in vogue today. Of course, ultimate purists that they are, these subsequent developments bore little interest to the members of Wolf, who used their eponymous debut album to reach back beyond them to replicate that era's unmatched sense of wonder and excitement. Not surprisingly, their quest led them straight to the galloping riffs, dual guitar harmonies, mystical subjects, and soaring vocals of Iron Maiden, and most pundits would agree that the results are nothing short of stunning for their authenticity of spirit, as well as, more importantly, their own merits. First up is the thrilling, one-minute-and-forty-three-second opener "In the Shadow of Steel" -- so short and sweet, you can't believe it Wolf could stand to leave it at that. Thankfully, the hyper-energized trio take a little more conventional time to enjoy their next set of similarly outstanding singles candidates: the excellent "Moonlight," "The Parasite," and the sitar-introduced, naturally Eastern-flavored "Electric Raga." Up next, "The Voyage" is only slightly less memorable, the back-to-form "Desert Caravan" slows things down just a bit to let its majestic melodies effectively conjure up the barren, wind-blasted vistas of its namesake, and yet the ensuing standout "The Sentinel" (not a cover of the Judas Priest track, incidentally) arguably tops it with its stunning intro section and rampant, galloping charge thereafter. The instrumental workout "243" is, ironically enough, a tad on the dull side (just like most Iron Maiden instrumentals), and epic closer "In the Eyes of the Sun," resurrects that under-utilized sitar for a final salute to the revered lords of steel. In summation, despite the admittedly dramatic descriptives used above, prospective fans should not fear a Manowar-like metallic sideshow of Wolf, whose songwriting and general philosophy is far more simple and nowhere near as deluded. Rather, they're the real deal in terms of vintage heavy metal.

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