Friday, August 27, 2010

Wolf - Wolf


For those who don't know, lasagna is a kind of pasta pie thing that looks disgusting and regurgitated, but it tastes like a slice of holy heaven, and that is what Wolf's self titled debut reminds me off. It looks like shit (most hilariously bad album cover I've ever seen coupled entirely unoriginal and generic name and sound), but tastes fantastic (the music is incredibly fun, fast paced, solid old school heavy fucking metal).

There, now that my contractual food reference is out of the way, allow me to continue with my musical analysis. As stated, Wolf's brand of heavy metal is... well, like a store brand. If Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Jag Panzer and the like are the Cokes and Pepsis of the style, then Wolf is like the Sam's Choice or the Tab. There is nothing here you haven't heard a thousand times before a thousand times better, but one can hear the conviction and passion in their riffs, which is more important than anything else. Imagine, the most innovative, creative, unique piece of music in the existence of humankind is performed by a bunch of scholars who have practiced to the point that they could play in their sleep, and execute the piece flawlessly in a nearly mechanically precise way. Immediately afterwards, Iron Maiden Clone #8675309, comprised of four or five eccentric looking young adults, sloppily plays their song, with a performance that exudes energy and passion. At this point, your are forced to make the choice of which one was more entertaining and what you'd rather see for the rest of eternity. I don't know about you, but I'll take the fools in spandex jumping around like chimpanzees on angel dust over the scholarly robots every single time.

That rather lengthy hypothetical was just my way of saying that while Wolf brings nothing new to the table, they are an enjoyable treat for any fan of the traditional heavy metal style. These guys sound like they worship Omen's Battle Cry, and that's about just as good an album as any to worship, and they do their worship relatively well. The riffs and leads manage to sound fresh even after the many recyclings they have undoubtedly gone through before the time of this album. Most of the songs are about the same pace and tempo, with the difference between the fastest and slowest songs being maybe only 20 or 30 bpm. So there isn't too much variation between tracks, but the variety in song structure will keep one interested throughout the duration. The minuscule difference between tracks and riffs that just scream deja vu don't seem like as big of problems as they actually are if you allow yourself to get sucked into the music.

There is one point of contention that really grates on my balls that I must address, and that is this vocalist. He is crappy... really crappy, he is the crappiest muffin (first person to identify the reference gets an internetical cookie). Remember how I said the vocalist for Icarus Witch sounded like a sedated Geddy Lee? Well now imagine a really tired and unconvinced Geddy Lee. All the passion championing I do when it comes to this band is almost always circumvented by this idiot. He sounds bored, like he just read the lyrics on the day he was to record his tracks, and he absolutely hated them. He's just there to fill the void of a frontman, the band needs a face and a voice, so they apparently just went with the first guy they saw who had long hair. I seriously can't see this guy being the best they could find. His voice lacks any sort of power... no vibrato, weak delivery, and just generally sounds like a really bored Joey Belladonna. The final seconds of Moonlight is a great example. The vocal line ascends to a point where he can't reach the note, and instead of just singing that particular portion in a lower octave or writing a melody that he could sing, he strains really hard to hit the note, and still ends up wailing about three or four whole tones flat, resulting in a hilariously embarrassing Kiske imitation. The fact that he plays guitar at the same time is no excuse, either give up guitar and vastly improve your vocal capabilities, or find a guy that doesn't smoke turds.

It's difficult to speak at great length about the instrumental aspects of Wolf. They are competent and ferocious, yet unoriginal, and I find it hard to explain it any further. Most riffs reek of Battle Cry or Powerslave and the drums utilize a grand total of four or five different beats, each one sounding like a master track from Iron Maiden's debut. And despite all this, it doesn't seem stale unless you want it to. Even though this is a hideously flawed record, it stands as an everlasting testament to why metal has endured as long as it has and why it won't die any time soon. While metal is still a young genre, it sometimes seems as if it expanded too quickly, and all of the ideas were used up in a mere 20 years. 38 years after Sabbath's debut, we are still treading new ground, but many of the paths are beaten and worn. Metallica has even set up a few rest stops along a few paths. But as Wolf tread the path that was taken many years ago by exponentially more talented groups, they still manage to deliver a solid dose of old school heavy metal. This is fun in moderation, but shouldn't be abused, lest it grow stale much faster than desired.

RATING - 79%

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