Wolfpakk - Wolves Reign

Wolfpakk Wolves Reign cover
Wolves Reign
AFM Records
While I initially didn’t mind the Wolfpakk collaboration between Michael Voss (Casanova, Mad Max etc.) and Mark Sweeney (ex-Crystal Ball) since their third album and considering the fact that the former is involved in quite a few projects, the continuation of this project has felt increasingly as a contractual obligation / chance for complementary income than real creative endeavor…
Vol 4 is marked by the inclusion of some pretty “heavy” names… there’s Claus Lessmann (ex-Bonfire), Timo Somers (Delain, Vengeance - son of Jan) on guitar and Rudy Sarzo on bass (too many bands to mention) on “Falling”, a decent enough hard rocker that would have been OK – if not for all the “level 1-10 verses” that feel silly really! Swiss born Gereon Homann plays the drums on this as well as all tracks other than “The 10 Commandments”, for which Alex Holzwarth (Rhapsody, Sieges Even) assumes the place on the throne…
“Run All Night” has Michael Vescera (Malmsteen, Obsession etc.) guesting on vocals along with Gotthard bassist Marc Lynn. It is actually a number that’s not half as bad, all around with nice enough riffs and a decent chorus.
“Blood Brothers” tries to be tailor made for Biff Byford (Saxon) and Brad Gillis (Night Ranger, Ozzy) but it fails to be all that interesting, despite a good idea, and Gillis’s amazing guitar playing as it feels cliché to the brim, longer than it actually is and a waste of a good riff.
“Wolves Reign” is interesting as it adds Tony Harnell (TNT) on vocals, George Lynch (Dokken, Lynch Mob) on guitars and Volker Krawczak (Axel Rudi Pell, Steeler) but at best sounds uneven and a semi-successful foray into atmospheric melodic metal, part ARP, part I dunno what. Lynch’s solo is fantastic and Harnell sounds impressive but that’s about it on a track that lacks real substance.
“No Remorse” features Oliver Hartmann (At Vance, Avantasia), who’s quite a capable vocalist, but ends up sounding like a left over from Edguy’s cutting floor / generic power metal that’s not bad, but is not a highlight either.
“Inside the Animal Mind” has Jioti Parcharidis (Victory, Human Fortress etc.) guesting on vocals on a track that sounds more like a bad Herman Frank (for whom Joti has sung as well) leftover, than anything…
Steve Grimmett (Grim Reaper, Chateux, Onslaught etc.) provides vocals for “Scream of the Hawk” along with the usual suspects and Michael Müller (Herman Frank, Jaded Heart) on bass… in typical fashion in another slightly underwhelming song that fits the bill – but doesn’t go much further...
“The 10 Commandment” apart from Holzwarth on drums – features also Pasi Rantanen (Thunderstone) on vocals, giving a different and interesting flavor to the already “cut and diced” style that the Voss/Sweeney vocal styles, push most of the songs in… a really biblical track...
In “Mother Earth” I half expected to be blown away by Ronnie Atkins, the well-known Pretty Maids vocalist, but I was positively shocked by the tasteful guitar playing and I’d presume little vocal performance of current Evanescence guitar player a German born lady by the name of Jen Majura, whose previously I had noticed as doing backing vocals in Rage, but seems to be an even better guitarist, given ample space here to unravel her talent. Positively surprised and I doubt she’s able to play like that in Ev. Actually this is one of the few positively great songs on the album, one that feels “natural” and not written with a certain singer in mind and the performances greatly help with that.
Danny Vaughn, of Tyketto, is pretty amazing in “Tomorrowland”; a song that soon after the intro feels rather Queen inspired, with the only downside being that it’s nice enough chorus is over-repeated to the point of saturation. Yeah, we get it, you thought it was great, but let’s not hear it till kingdom come... (no don’t worry Lenny Wolf is not featured)...
Lastly, Andy Lickford of the Swiss Killer band and former WASP guitarist Chris Holmes guest on “I’m Onto You”, a pretty standard tack that’s got a nice riff, but really lacks in imagination in the chorus department… thus proving lackluster, despite its guest best intentions and efforts.
A rather vain exercise in template songwriting that’s overall better than “Rise of the Animal”, but hardly manages to convince that it has a real purpose of existing with only a handful of meaningful compositions and a lot to be desired, mainly due to the lazy writing – and not at the guests fault some of which put on more than decent performances here.