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Wolf – Devil Seed

Niklas Stålvind has led his Wolf project for approaching 20 years, with Devil Seed (Century Media) being opus number 7. Along the way he has replaced each of the bands component parts several times over, yet has retained a focus of vision in the classic Heavy Metal sound that pours from every follicle of their newest outing.

Devil Seed starts well, and when Stålvind is on song, such as on the excellently titled opener ‘Overture In C Shark / Shark Attack’, his troupe are reminiscent of classic Accept, razor riffing with a touch of groove, a driving back beat, and a fist-in-the-air chorus. This is followed by ‘Skeleton Woman’ with its crashing open chords, darker prowl and powerful “Collecting Skulls!” refrain, calling to mind the vastly underrated Metal Church.

But from here on in, Wolf fall into the formulas and trappings of so many of their peers, not only unable to maintain consistency, but identity too, all too often sounding like a mesh of other bands, and, like so many others, not possessing distinctive character of their own. An unnecessary reliance on metallic mid-tempo nondescript riffs and cliché lyrics and titles, the like of which littered Judas Priest’s Jugulator and Demolition (both SPV), puffs out much of the album; ‘Surgeons of Lobotomy’, ‘My Demon’ and ‘Back From The Grave’ form a jelly-like spine of an album that bounces from good (‘I Am Pain’ and the prowling standout ‘The Dark Passenger’, which harks to Fight’s ‘Laid To Rest’) to mediocre. As if to prove the point further, the album limps home with stodgy duo ‘River Everlost’ and ‘Frozen’ before picking up pace and quality with closer ‘Killing Floor’, replete with Mercyful Fate riffage and bringing an energy sadly lacking from half the material.

Stålvind is a strong vocalist, not too dissimilar to Mike Howe, and certainly fitting for a Heavy Metal band. However, Devil Seed reaffirms that one man does not a band make, and a more creative and dynamic foil is needed if this Wolf is to ever step out from the pack.

6.5/10.0

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STEVE TOVEY