In 1984, the name LEATHERWOLF appeared for the first time on the 5-song EP “Endangered Species”. However, the cassette EP was released in the USA only. The release planned for Europe in 1985 was enhanced by 4 additional songs. The legendary debut album “Leatherwolf” was born. It contained very guitar-oriented, progressive US Metal with a strong MAIDEN influence and rather soft vocals by Michael Olivieri. Visually but also vocally, that guy would suit any poser band. The leatherwolves played heavy as hell True Metal with three (!) lead guitars, though.
All of the songs are total cult and have never been reached again. Strangely, the second album was simply called “Leatherwolf” as well, and for one, it was an improvement as far as choirs and arrangements went. There were killer tunes that were among the best of the best. Unfortunately, not all of the songs were absolute hits, and you could already feel tendencies to commercial Hard Rock. What was shocking because of the heaviness of the debut back then turned out to be one of the band’s greatest strengths. Their choir arrangements were really excellent. This was perfected on “Street Ready”, despite the more commercial direction. There hardly is better Melodic Metal than that on this killer disc. At least they kept their edges and stayed a Metal band when it came to their attitude.
I do not know what the band’s motivation was after this. The line-up wheel started turning and I will continue with the comeback album “World Asylum”. The only remaining original members are guitarist Geoff Mayer and drummer Dean Roberts, but in vocalist Wade Black (SEVEN WITCHES, CRIMSON GLORY), guitarist Eric Halpern (HELSTAR, DESTINY’S END) and bassist Pete Perez (RIOT, SPASTIC INK), they have some professionals aboard. The album surprised me a lot, because it sounds really contemporary and yet they did not ignore the trademarks of LEATHERWOLF. The vocals by Black fit excellently, the guitars are amazing and the songs are alright as well. The somewhat modern touch is not disturbing and the production is really heavy. The neat choirs are still there, from time to time they use a somewhat more progressive approach, and in “Behind The Gun” they have an absolute ubersong. The rest of the material is neat, no doubt, but it is impossible to come close to the old glorious stuff.
That is impossible anyway, as the cult factor just is unmatched. I must say, though, that LEATHERWOLF are a force to be reckoned with again. This has become an outstanding album, considering the rest of the crap that has polluted my ears recently. (Online August 20, 2006)