The cast list reads like a veritable rock and metal who’s who. Based on the pedigree present, “Rise Of The Animal”, the latest long playing offering from Wolfpakk, promises great things. Happily, I can report, it delivers on those promises… in spades.
From the outset they nail their colours firmly to the mast with the mighty Rider Of The Storm. With its relentless bass drum rhythm driving this untamed beast of a song, howling and stalking it’s prey complete with that classic, semi-operatic vocal sound we all know and love… Add to that a razor sharp guitar and what we have is the setup for a great album.
Sock It To Me does exactly what it says on the tin with it’s classic 80’s glam vibe and sensibilities with a 21st century upgrade… We’re moving quickly through the gears and the aforementioned pedigree is already starting to show itself by the time it reaches the inevitible harmony guitar part which is more a welcome surprise than a predictable inclusion.
Just when you think you got the album pegged, the third track, “Monkey On Your Back” provides the first true surprise… This time the guitar sound has a more “high gain” attack and the whole sound comes alive with a new found freedom and energy… This is carried on into “Highlands” with the addition of bagpipes!
Black Wolf, no matter how you slice it, is classic metal and it makes no bones about it. It’s hard and it’s heavy. With it’s brilliant use of acoustic guitar in the intro and then again as a dynamic tool at the halfway point.
Somewhere Beyond is next and we’re staying in familiar metal territory. We hear the story of a soldier fighting in a foreign land… This image is reinforced by the clever interplay between the bass drum and guitar in the chorus as they produce the sound of chopper blades. The whole song is like an explosion…
Talking of explosions, next up is Running Out Of Time, a track which drives along as if that was indeed the case. This album truly is a tour de force, giving us examples of the most enduring qualities of rock and metal. Running Out Of Time has a more British feel to it and in particular, the “bounce” of early Maiden. Some things never get old… The tight production values displayed right across the album makes sure of that.
After that lighter interlude, Grizzly Man, ready for the hunt, makes his presence known with brutal force… The guitars are as dirty as the hunters hands and as heavy as his legs as he hunts his next meal. The song is symphonic, choral and epic without being overlong.
Meanwhile, in Vegas! With more glam than a centrefolds convention the “High Roller” hits town… Complete with it’s mid 80’s guitar swagger and “rent a crowd” chorus it cruises along effortlessy looking for and having a great time.
The title track builds from a dreamlike keyboard soundscape before an onslaught of twin guitars sweeps in like a barrage of bullets. With it’s seige mentality it bludgeons us with riff after mighty riff, aided and abetted by the rest of the rhythm section the animal rises exerting its dominance, relenting only momentarily giving us the time to take in a wonderful retro synth break followed by a sublime guitar solo. But that is the only respite as it charges to it’s inevitable climax…
Closing the album is the down tempo rock ballad, Universe… With its chugging guitar and pseudo operatic vocals this is a perfect accompaniment for the open road and provides everything you’d expect from a rock ballad.
All in all, this is a fine album, as you might expect from the assembled musicians. However, outstanding as parts of it are, because it does consist of multiple personnel variations, it never quite feels like a “band” album. This is a minor criticism and by no means detracted from my overall enjoyment of this fabulous album.
The motifs seem familiar enough to engage the hardened old school metalhead but there is still enough scuzz and bravura to edge it’s way into the most hip rock playlist.
This is rock music in all its pomp and glory… This is rock music in the finest tradition… This is rock music at its most glorious, overblown, self indulgent best… This is rock music.
1 Riders Of The Storm
2 Sock It To Me
3 Monkey On Your Back
5 Black Wolf
6 Somewhere Beyond
7 Running Out Of Time
8 Grizzly Man
9 High Roller
10 Rise Of The Animal