Roy Z has put his hand in some of the most important heavy metal albums at the end of the 90s and the beginning of the 00s, literally waking up slumbering beasts (Bruce, Rob) and rescuing both their credibility from their continued display of musical misfires and unfortunate quotes. A most significant figure.
So, this Mr. Z was on his way to attend a concert by his favorite Robin Trower (Procol Harum, Robin Trower band). In the car his friend had Evil Star playing. Roy Z was badly hooked to the point that he stayed in the car while the concert had already begun, missing 2 or 3 songs, so he wouldn’t spoil his listening experience. After The Black Flame was released, the man became a certifiable fan so he e-mailed Wolf, asking to collaborate with them. Naturally, they accepted and thus after Accident of Birth, Chemical Wedding and Resurrection, Roy Z put his hand in another one of the (few) peaks of modern heavy metal.
Besides Mr. Zee though there are some nice guests as well. Mark Boals provides some backing vocals on Love at First Bite (eh, OK, nothing really distinctive) and Hank Shermann (main composer of Melissa, feel it) lays down a wonderful solo on the album’s title track. Everything looks sweet on paper. In practice, it’s even sweeter. Wolf are once again flawless, mature, so very Wolf, by now extremely characteristic. Same thing applies here, if someone tells you “they are stealing Maiden”, he is dangerously ignorant and a good indication you should keep in mind that you are dealing with a douche who has an opinion on albums he hasn’t listened to (People like that exist? You don’t say!)
Immense inspiration characterizes this album too. On a personal level I think that the gauge of horny inspiration does not peak on every track of the album but, by my word, it peaks at least on half the album and for the rest I can say it’s at least very, very good. I registered endless repeated listens of the whole album comfortably but, full disclosure, some songs got WAY more repeats. The introductory trio of the album truly destroys; ideal beginning with the aptly named Speed On, then Curse You Salem, which is easily one the band’s best compositions; grand Mercyful Fate game, with Niklas’ favorite habit of introducing the song with an enormously exciting solo. Enter the lyrics “Back in 1692, the year of the black witch”, SO METAL, gigantic masterpiece. Voodoo immediately after, mid tempo and hopelessly catchy, unforgettable vocal lines, it was the obvious choice for a video.
“Catchy”, by the way, is definitely ideal to describe the vibe of the album. We’re really talking about a study on infectious riffs, hooks and choruses. Mind you, not your average hollow “melodic metal” bubble gum, dime-a-dozen hooks, we’re talking HEAVY METAL here. It’s not an accident that many fans of Wolf cite this as their favorite album by the band, a title contested by at least 4 of their albums, an irrefutable witness of their high quality. I think that Ravenous would win this poll in the UK, who really embraced them with this album and has loved them dearly ever since, which makes me thrice ashamed on behalf of the Greeks trailing behind. I cannot fathom how the Brits get Wolf (I can understand Hell, they are English!) and we have people here going “yeah, good band, sure”. WHAT DO YOU MEAN “SURE” YOU POOR IGNORANT SOUL? But I digress…!
Not much to add really, get it, listen to it and hopefully you’ll also get the brilliance of songs like Mr. Twisted (beautiful, beautiful solo, did I mention that Niklas plays *almost* all guitars on the album?) or Love at First Bite or Whiskey Psycho Hellions with its special riff and vibe.
Such a streak of wonderful releases were not for nothing. Their album sales remain on roughly the same levels on every release, at a time when record sales plummet further with every year, a sign that they build their dynamic with every release. Along the new fans this time, myself, finally caught up to the band and salivating profusely in expectance of their new album.
Live requests: CURSE YOU SALEM. Any of the other titles dropped in the text.