Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Review - WOLFPAKK "Rise of The Animal" (2014 AFM Records)

Mark Sweeney and Michael Voss will release their latest Wolfpakk album "Rise of The Animal" on April 15th via AFM and this time it's obvious that they wanted to inject a bit more heavy into their melodic style of metal and they have done it very well. Not only that but they have assembled an all star array of guests to appear on this one as well.

I've been lucky enough to have an advance copy of  the actual CD to listen to for about a week now and it's been a good week. Track one "Rider of The Storm" starts right off with a damn catchy riff courtesy of Jeff Watson. Andi Deris from Helloween does the guest vocals on this one while Mark Sweeney adds his signature vocal style on top. All together a great way to open the album and it really sets the tone for the rest of it.

Up next is "Sock it to me" with a guest vocal spot from Marc Storace but amazingly they just use him on the chorus. In a masterstroke they place him on the second and third chore but not the first. This adds a bit more power as the song goes on. Did I mntion that they have very nicely broken out who does what in the CD booklet? This should get two horns up just for that.

"Monkey on Your Back" is a nicely done song dealing with addiction. Danger Danger man Ted Poley lends his pipes to this one and Ryan Roxie from Alice Cooper's band provides the axe work. Very catchy hooks in this one and a very singable chorus. Would have been very cool to have Nita Strauss on this one too.

Okay I'll admit that track four is a well written tune but I was a wee bit confused about a German melodic metal band doing a song called "Highland" complete with a highland breakdown by Bernie Torme. Totally enjoyed the vocal contributions from Joe Lynn Turner on this one. Of all the songs on the album this one has the chorus that will stick with you for days. Did I mention the bagpipes?

"Black Wolf" has a nice heavy groove. Lyrics might be a little off but the heft and groove of this one makes up for it.After this comes "Somewhere Beyond" which is a classic power metal song complete with some very Accept like vocal from David Reece. The guitar work from John Norum is also well done but as with his gig with Europe his guitar works is overshadowed by orchestration.

Track seven is "Running Out Of Time". Another fast paced tune with great vocals by Michael Voss.. Lots of changes in this one and the most dramatic is the turn into the chorus where you are suddenly in "Shadowlife" land and conveniently the vocal is provided by Don Dokken. The mighty Doug Aldrich provides the guitar on this one and he lays down one of the prime solos on the album.

Track eight "Grizzly Man" doesn't do a damn thing for me. It kills me to say that because these guys put out some great music but that track just leaves me cold.Track nine though "High Roller" is very nice. Kudos for the cool panning in the beginning. If you listen on a quality system it seems like the the coin drop goes around you. Nice comeback from the prior track. I should mention that current AC/DC drummer Chris Slade provides the beat on this one.

Amazingly the title track is the last track on the regular release. Lots of vocal tradeoffs here between Mark, Michael and Michael Kiske. They also include a triple play solo with Axel Rudi Pell, a keyboard solo from Chris Ivo (Jaded Heart) and Martin Rauber rounding it out back on guitar

If you get the deluxe edition (I did, thank you AFM) you get an extra track "Universe" as well as a video of "Sock It To Me". The real kicker in the final track is the vocal from Michaela Schober. Holy crap can that girl sing. It's the only female voice on the disc and you can't miss it. Reminded me a lot of Elize from Amaranthe. This track is probably the closest to a classic melodic/symphonic metal track and it was probably a wise choice making it a bonus track. The rest of the album is clearly not this.

So yes I would have bought this one anyways. Wolfpakk as an ongoing project always seems to deliver. However it was very nice to have it drop on my lap. If you liked the last Wolfpakk release then you will most likely be very much into this one as well. Even if you were take away the metal cavalcade of guests there are still some great songs on here. The extra muscle is just icing on the cake.

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