Metal Review – Wolf: Devil Seed

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Metal Review – Wolf: Devil Seed
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Wolf: Devil Seed
Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal
Century Media Records
September 2nd, 2014
Release length: 47:12
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When it comes to Heavy Metal, one band name that has only been growing more and more common is the four-piece group from Orebro, Sweden named Wolf. While remaining active since forming back in 1995, there have been a good number of line-up changes over the years that left vocalist and guitarist Niklas “Viper” Stalvind (former Slaughtercult) the only remaining founder. These set backs definitely didn’t stop the group from stomping their way to the forfront over the years, unleashing six full-length albums that clawed their way through some smaller labels to reach Massacre Records before landing on their long time home of Century Media Records since 2006’s The Black Flame. With over three years passing since their previous effort Legions of Bastards, Wolf returns with Devil Seed, easily their most anticipated effort yet. But does it set the bar any higher for the band, or does it only lower by taking a number of steps back?

While Wolf is largely considered a Heavy Metal act, there’s no denying Devil Seed shows them continuing to incorporate Hard Rock influences into the mix. “My Demon” is an infectious slower paced offering with catchy hooks that are as laid back as the overall performance is. The bass does sneak through from time to time to give it a bit more bite, but this restrained offering exists only to have your head bob along obediently to the text book example of how Hard Rock and Heavy Metal can come together and leave a surprisingly memorable song in its wake despite some of the notes from the drum kit towards the end that aren’t actually off-time still managing to disrupt the general flow as if they were. “Surgeons of Lobotomy” finds the guitars a lot richer and deeper against the much more obvious bass presence and well paced drums. Of course the groove they provide the simpler eighties Rock riffs can’t mask the hints of influence from Warrant‘s hit “Cherry Pie” in the main verses and some bridges, though the jump to the more melodic chorus does end up a welcome one.

“I Am Pain” is actually a bit of a strange track. While the main verses sound a bit trippy, they don’t ever actually tread into the Stoner Rock field. In fact they sound a little more like something Red Hot Chili Peppers would have put together. The chorus, however, has a little more technicality in the melodic riffs that usher in a slight Middle Eastern vibe that the clean singing keeps within that aforementioned hazy realm. “The Dark Passanger” takes the psychadelic and regional elements of that one and compounds them into a Progressive track full of chugging and psychadelic leads that are effective, but would probably be more powerful if executed using a sitar instead of your traditional electric guitar. In the end the song is catchy with a decent chorus and solid solo, but it doesn’t really do much more than that unless you count the additional Jane’s Addiction style vocals with heavy echo effect to make them even more grating than they prove they can be through most of the release.

Sadly, this is one of the more irritating elements of Devil Seed, and Wolf in general. While the somewhat nasal fashion has a commendable range, after “Shark Attack” they just start being too much for such traditional music. In fact the only time such emphasis works out past that song is “Killing Floor,” which is a far more dynamic track overall and greatly benefits from that push that actually incorporates some rather powerful shouting in the chorus to seal the aggressive nature of the lyrics against the already dark and hostile atmosphere that makes up all but the beautiful acoustic piece around four-and-a-half minutes in that acts as the outro.

And then there’s “Shark Attack” itself and its less edgy introductory counter-part “Overture in C Shark.” This one has polenty of tight, technical riffs that charge ahead like the creature in question to make a flawless example of Wolf‘s true power. Of course that is if you overlook the fact that this is yet another song that isn’t really too original. “Shark Attack” sounds a lot like “Ultra Motion” by Annihilator to the point where you could overlap those lyrics into the main verses and they’ll sound right at home. The chorus, however, has some simpler chugging and much more enthusiasm from the vocals that make the simpler segment more addicting than the rest of the infectious material would have you expect.

Devil Seed may be one of the group’s most anxiously awaited efforts, but it’s also one of their least engaging. Between vocals that sound out of place or far more enthusiastic than they should be, clashing with the traditional performance behind them to the point where they wear you down after a while, passages that sound familiar or instantly recognizable with another band, standard compositions that bring very little originality to the table, and overly simple lyrics that often seem to have very little thought behind them if at all really beat this album down. What could have been a crowning achievement for the band at this point in their career ends up nothing but a pot luck dinner for your ears that was so bland you put in the fridge weeks ago and forgot all about until now. But, chances are, if you’re already a fan of Wolf, nothing is going to stop you from adding this entry into your collection. While “Shark Attack,” “Killing Floor” and “My Demon” are the only three songs really worth having around, chances are high they will be the only reason you pull this album back out for any repeat spins past the first few.

01. Overture in C Shark – 2:13
02. Shark Attack – 3:27
03. Skeleton Woman – 4:52
04. Surgeons of Lobotomy – 4:09
05. My Demon – 3:59
06. I Am Pain – 3:38
07. Back from the Grave – 4:25
08. The Dark Passanger – 5:35
09. River Everlost – 5:20
10. Frozen – 4:14
11. Killing Floor – 5:21
Initial Pressing Score: 4/10

Wolf
Wolf

Digital review copy of this release provided by Century Media Records.