Wolf - Feeding the Machine

Wolf Feeding the Machine cover
Feeding the Machine
Century Media Records
If you thought that Germanic act Powerwolf were the first to pay tribute to the lupine archetype you may have another thing coming as Wolf, a Swedish band that’s been around since the mid-90s were releasing average to good albums, with pretty terrible covers since before the turn of the millennium at reasonable intervals, even managing to get a bit of a following.
I must admit that their previous effort, “Devil Seed”, did change my perception of them as average, good ole heavy metal, as it almost exceeded in every department. It featured a cool cover artwork, some of the edgier and faster songs the band had done and even singer/guitarist, Niklas “Viper” Stålvind, trying his hardest to imitate Rob Halford (a task that he was never able to replicate live seriously down tuning) and ending up sounding like the actually more gifted cousin of Kai Hansen (vocally) in the process. An album with Lief Edling (Candlemass), the eponymous, “The Doomsday Kingdom” in 2017 followed, which wasn’t bad by any means and now it’s time for the lupine ones to once again go on the hunt. Losing longtime members Anders “Tornado” Modd (bass) and drummer Richard “Raptor” Holmgren that had served the band for more than a decade for reasons unbeknownst, the much traveled. Pontus Egberg (lately with King Diamond, prev with The Poodles) assumes bass duties and the equally experienced and Johan Koleberg, who’s also played in more than a half dozen famous bands (ie Hammerfall, Therion) is on drums. It’s worth mentioning that both were band-mates previously in the awesome Zan Clan.
Despite the band’s consistency since the 90s (when almost no one bothered with traditional power metal on a serious level – other than a few), no one can say that they managed to capitalize on the genres post millennial renaissance despite being stalwarts and purveyors of it with newer and less technical bands managing to capture most of the retro listeners fancy, seemingly.
“Shoot to Kill” is a hard hitting up-tempo opener, which sure begins the album promisingly, with its 80s Judas Priest mannerisms serving it well, but in the pantheon of Wolf songs of that ilk, it’s nowhere near the top. Still it’s a fun romp.
“Guillotine” doesn’t drop the speed much, but the Sabbathesque tempi and mediocrity that creeps up, gets the best of it.
“Dead Man’s Hand” opening riff, is not hugely original, but I like its Gamma Priest or Judas Ray nature… only problem is it’s too samey as its predecessor melodically and it’s reference of “The Sentinel” might be in jest or passing, but it doesn’t help it feel like anything than a bit of a well done pastiche of 80s clichés.
“Midnight Hour” is the single of the album; a riffy mid-tempo that sounds like it means business and could stand up against some of the band’s better moments.
“Mass Confusion” has nice riffing, but feels like it’s missing the wildcard quality that would make it rise above average, but it’s not bad. It just sounds like a bit of a “deja vu”, though. The solo is paradoxically excited, which I guess is not a bad thing, just a little unexpected if anything.
“The Cold Emptiness” offers a welcome slight change of pace in a vintage Merciful way, sans the Diamondesque falsettos, but at least is a different enough and more atmospheric composition that offers a bit of variety on an album that really could use some.
The title track, “Feeding the Machine”, keeps the trad vibe with a very Angelwitch (“Atlantis”) meets King D vibe. Again not the most original thing to grace the ether, but compared to a lot of shite, I am willing to look past the obvious similarities.
“Devil in the Flash” gives a nod, a salute, and who knows what else to Judas Priest, with the only weird thing about it being the prechorus, which feels a little out of place.
Don’t get me started on the funny puns and jokes I could come up with a title as odd as “Spoon Bender”. It’s a weird more melodic number that I’m not entirely sure where it might have come from, but it has some nice lead work, so it’s not completely without its merits.
“The Raven” is pacey and darkly melodic, one of the more interesting tunes and one that stands out, merely based on the fact that it’s different enough to the rest of the tracks on offer with its bizarre stylistic choices. Its vocalisms are a bit of a letdown, but it’s soloing is certainly not.
“Black Widow” has some nice, smooth rhythms and it’s melodic and dark, again, offering a bit of contrast, especially to the earlier songs on the album. The jazzy breaks reminded me slightly of what Michael Harris often goes about doing in Darkology, but in a song definitely more straightforward for the most part. Nice!
And the band closes the album with one of their most original and varied songs with the fairly interesting “A Thief Inside”, which combines all of the bands best aspects in a haunting piece.
A cover of Angelwitch’s “Atlantis” on the digi is almost a giveaway of where the title track came from and cool of them to include it. It’s not bad either.
Good, but not as cool as the “Devil Seed”, imho. A little more variation would go a long way especially when as a band you display the aptitude to pull it off.