Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Lonewolf - Army of the Damned

Bumming Wild

Lonewolf is... uh, kind of a difficult band to critique.  I say this because these Frenchmen seem to be most renowned for one, and only one, thing.  They are probably the most blatant and shameless Running Wild clone on the face of the planet right now, with the only other real contenders being the (superior) Blazon Stone.  While the Swedes take influence from the early middle era of the legendary band (as if their name wasn't a big enough clue), Lonewolf here takes a window every so slightly more recent.  Basically instead of spanning the Death or Glory - Pile of Skulls era, they take the influence from the Pile of Skulls - The Rivalry era.  Considering I'm sure a raging RW fanboy, and since Rolf has been steadfastly dragging the band's name through the mud lately, I should be happy that a couple good worship acts are here to fill the void in my life, right?

Well, kinda.  It's certainly neat to hear a band take such obvious influence from one of the greatest metal bands to ever exist, but it's also exceedingly lame when they put absolutely no effort into putting their own spin on it.  Lonewolf is a carbon copy of Running Wild's sound on The Rivalry, and that's really about as deep as the description goes.  It's loaded with high tempo rockers with plenty of double bass, and most importantly those triumphant tremolo picked melodies all over the place.  That is really the most obvious element they've decided to just take and do nothing interesting with, but even the utter lack of creativity is softened somewhat by the simple awesomeness in these melodies.  Even when it's a totally redundant band ripping off a far greater band, those damn melodies will always manage to pump me up.  If there're any two things that really separate Lonewolf from Running Wild, it's the power metal influence and the vocals.  Yeah, Army of the Damned here may be a complete ripoff of mid-90s Running Wild, but it's a tad closer to power metal than my favorite Germans ever got.  So for that, we get a slightly quicker average tempo and a bit more double bass, but otherwise this is still among the most obvious worship bands this side of Warhammer.

The second biggest difference is the vocals, and holy shit they suck.  I wish I could describe them accurately, but it's just so hard to do with words.  They sound like that fucking HONK HONK laugh that Pee-wee Herman does, but with a French accent.  I'm sure that sounds hilarious, and at first it really does, but good lord does it wear thin quickly.  This is not the sound a lead vocalist should strive for, in any medium.  I guess as a background thing or in part of a group vocal, it sounds fine, but when it's the most prominent aspect of the album outside the melodious guitars, it's really grating and distracting.  It's a shame because the guitars are really good (in both the leads and those juicy, juicy melodies), but the vocalist just really needs to chase his next shot of whiskey with some drain cleaner.  There's a difference between a voice having grit and just sounding comically ridiculous.

This is another one I can't really go on at length about because I've already said everything there is to say twice.  It sounds like Running Wild with a terrible vocalist, quod erat demonstrandum.  The title track has a nice chorus and "Hellbent for Metal" is really catchy, but past that I really can't recommend for anybody other than Running Wild fanatics who really want some new music in that style to help assuage the pain of Shadowmaker.  Otherwise skip it, there's nothing to see here.

RATING - 40%

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