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Wolf - "The Black Flame" (CD)

Wolf - "The Black Flame" CD cover image

"The Black Flame" track listing:

1. I Will Kill Again
2. At The Graveyard
3. Black Magic
4. The Bite
5. Make Friends With Your Nightmares
6. Demon
7. The Dead
8. Seize The Night
9. Steelwinged Savage Reaper
10. Children Or The Black Flame

Reviewed by on October 5, 2010

"Wolf's 'The Black Flame' ably carries the torch for the melodic metal of the early '80s. If you're a fan of Iron Maiden, Saxon or Judas Priest, odds are, you're going to find this to be an excellent 47-minute musical journey."

With "The Black Flame," Swedish rockers Wolf set the way-back machine to around 1983, creating a solid slab of melodic metal in the Maiden mold. Sure, the band wears its influences on its sleeve, but when the music is performed as well as the songs on this disc are, originality isn't such a pressing concern.

One thing that separates Wolf from the rest of the Iron Maiden imitators is guitarist/singer Niklas Stalvind's vocals, which, quite honestly are reminiscent of a more tightly controlled Geddy Lee from Rush. Songs like "At The Graveyard" have quite a bit of falsetto, but it's never obnoxious.

Stalvind and fellow ax-slinger Johannes Losback have obviously studied at the Murray-Smith school of twin-guitar assault, with songs like the aforementioned "At The Graveyard" and "Demon" having some particularly interesting solos and instrumental passages that will remind you quite a bit of early Maiden.

With all of the Maiden-worship going on, it's a little surprising that the best song on the album is the Judas Priest-flavored "Steelwinged Savage Reaper," which seriously sounds as if it could've been a "Painkiller" outtake, particularly as Stalvind's vocals rise during the bridge. Usually I'm a little ambivalent about sampled sounds like engines revving up and police sirens howling in the background, but in this case, they work spectacularly well.

Another great track is the opener, "I Will Kill Again," which tells the tale of a serial killer talking to the one victim he left alive from behind prison bars. As Stalvind sings, "Don't release me, I'd kill again," it's enough to send a shiver down your spine.

On the downside, there are a couple songs where things just get a little too grandiose for their own good. The worst of these is "Children Or The Black Flame," which features guest vocalist Sonny Larsson and some overly theatrical guitar soloing.

Wolf's "The Black Flame" ably carries the torch for the melodic metal of the early '80s. If you're a fan of Iron Maiden, Saxon or Judas Priest, odds are, you're going to find this to be an excellent 47-minute musical journey.

Highs: "I Will Kill Again," "Steelwinged Savage Reaper"

Lows: A few moments where things go over the top, including much of the final track.

Bottom line: Excellent melodic metal in the Maiden mold.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)