Wolf - Wolf No Fashion Records - 2000 /images/covers/wolf.jpg SMOKING!! This was my initial reaction after finally hearing the self-titled debut release of the band Wolf. It took me a long time to get a copy of this CD, but it was well worth the search. Wolf plays aggressive, fast, no-holds-barred heavy metal that has more in common with 80s bands than 90s bands. The music is raw and crunchy and very melodic. It was a great surprise to see that Wolf was recorded at Abyss Studios and produced by Peter Tägtgren. Peter plays guitars and sings in the band Hypocrisy, and has also made himself one of the better producers in metal. As usual, the production by Peter is phenomenal, the vocals are soaring, the guitars are aggressive, the bass is galloping, and the drums are blasting away. At the time of the recording, the members of Wolf were: Mikael Goding (bass), Daniel Bergkvist (drums), and Niklas Olsson (guitars/vocals). Throughout the album you can listen to powerful driving guitars, very catchy vocal melodies, and fast and blazing solos and leads. They easily remind me of Iron Maiden because of these qualities and the galloping pace set in some of the songs. Songs range from the under-two-minute opening track, "In the Shadows of Steel," to the over-seven-minute epic, "In the Eyes of the Sun." There is also an excellent instrumental piece called "243," which is superb, and features the instruments at their best. "243" also has plenty of tempo changes, including some fast parts and some mid-tempo sections. It was really hard to choose a favorite song from this album because they are all standouts, but in the end the choice is "The Parasite." The song is loaded with twin-guitar harmony, leads, and speedy solos. The intro starts off with pounding drumming coupled with a great intro riff by the guitars. At around the 55-second mark, we hear one of those excellent harmonic sections. The solo/instrumental piece is amazing; the best solo in the album is in this song. "Electric Raja" has a Middle Eastern vibe to it, and coupled with the blazing speed of Wolf's music, this song is really unique. "The Voyage" starts off with another great guitar riff that drives the song; the vocals are not belted as loudly as in other songs. Not only does it feature another great guitar solo, but the drums get a chance to shine in a brief drum solo. The end of the song is great because the main riff is gradually slowed down to a great finish. "Desert Caravan" has an extremely catchy chorus that I find very easy to scream along to - I can only imagine how this song would sound live with a bunch of metalheads yelling out loud. The middle section of the song has a change of pace where it is slowed down. The solo is very emotional and is about the slowest you will find Wolf playing, but before you know the tempo picks up again to its faster blazing glory. The whole instrumental section of the song easily reminds me of Iron Maiden in song structure and playing. Finally, just like I thought that the Onward album was too short because I wanted to hear more awesome music, I feel the same way about this album. I wanted more - I am greedy - but as long as they come out with a blazing second album, and soon, I will forgive them. Wolf was released in March 2000, but I feel it is my responsibility to feature this album now, both because of its sheer brilliance and because it is hard to get a lot of information on it. They're another great new band with an extremely bright feature ahead of them, and they have set themselves apart from the rest of the pack (no pun intended) with their style of music. I really look forward to hearing more from them in the future. I know it's hard to get this album, especially for those of us who live in the US, but do your best - you will not be disappointed!