Wolf - Devil Seed - (6/10)
Published on August 25, 2014
Label:Century Media Records
Wolf are an odd band. Their eponymous debut 14 years ago made the history books for one of the worst album covers in metal history, but showed a very promising young heavy metal band, which broke through with their 2006 album The Black Flame and then they kind of fell off for me. Their following four albums were not bad, but nothing that stood out among the many other releases, so my hopes for their seventh album were kind of mixed.
Now Devil Seed is lurking and while all the band’s trademarks are still intact, the guitar sound is more modern in the past, which is not necessarily something negative, but there are a few issues of a different kind that hinder the album’s success. And right in opener “Shark Attack”, the main of these issues rears its ugly head. Powerful and upbeat, the song has energy and is technically a good start to the album, but once the chorus hits and Stålvind wails “Shaaaaaark Attaaaaaack! Waaaarning! Waaaarning!”, things take a dive, dragging down an otherwise good song. Don’t get me wrong, it is catchy (as in it will haunt you for days), but it almost seems as if they did not bother trying to write a fully rounded chorus.
And this continues to thread through the album, “Skeleton Woman”, “I Am Pain”, “Frozen”, “Killing Floor” (“Vengeeeaaance, Vengeeeaaance”…), they all are not up to par with the rest of the respective songs and ultimately drag the whole experience down quite a bit, sounding like an afterthought. And this is a shame, because “Skeleton Woman” actually is a pretty good song with a very nice and surprising Spanish guitar solo over the rest of the instruments. “Back from the Grave” is probably the best cut of the album, faster and with edgier riffing it fits Stålvind’s quite unique voice best and the added energy does both song and album good, while “The Dark Passenger” fits its title and is as polar opposite slower and darker, showing a side that had worked for the Swedes in the past.
Devil Seed is a somewhat frustrating album, where the band seems to be its biggest enemy. Good songs are marred by weak choruses and while some may say that Stålvind’s vocals are (too) different from the majority of other frontmen in the genre, it is one of the defining elements of Wolf’s sound. Knowing what the band is capable of, Devil Seed has to be filed under “slight disappointment” after all.