WOLF – Shadowland
July 25, 2022, 2 months ago
Wolf’s newest opus is a handbook of how to write high quality heavy metal. While not a concept album, Shadowland is themed with dystopic visions guided by an army of hard-hitting, exceptional riff work and the newer rhythm section of Pontus Egberg (bass) and Johan Koleberg (drums) settling in after 2020’s solid Feeding The Machine.
It’s the lead wolf that keeps the pack howling though as Niklas Stålvind backs the fury with his prominent, nasally vocal delivery. A warm production with a protruding bass and drum work complements the fiery guitars as the songs take a gaze of charging traditional heavy metal with at times brilliant melodicism (especially in the nifty “The Ill-fated Mr. Mordrake”). Love the devious riff work in opener “Dust” as it throws the listener right in with snarling guitars. The songwriting takes a jump with the progressive minded “The Time Machine” and the clean chord work in the chorus of “Visions Of The Blind” makes for a crisp contrast to the colorful riffing in the verses.
The tracklist works wonders with a diverse range of brilliantly executed music. The eloquent title track brings in clever tambourine work backed up by slick guitars. Simon Johansson and Stålvind are an entertaining guitar duo, working well off each other in the punchy “Evil Lives” and the aforementioned “The Ill-fated Mr. Mordrake” while “Exit Signs” sees them at their speediest. “Rasputin” showcases a menacing and groovier rhythm and “Seek The Silence” holds some striking vocal work in the chilling atmosphere.
At 11 tracks and 55 minutes (including the essential bonus track “Trial By Fire”), Shadowland never fizzles out as the Wolf’s howl is reminding the masses who the leader of the heavy metal pack is.