So far French LONEWOLF haven’t really fared too well in their reviews on TMO, but that didn’t stop them from pursuing their dream of climbing the Metal totem, now offering us “Made In Hell”, their third full album and a lot has stayed the same. The main complaints had been that the production was not the best and that Jens Börner’s vocals sounded like a hybrid between Rock’n’Rolf and Chris Boltendahl on a really bad day.
Well, what definitely has stayed the same is the band’s musical style, which still heavily draws from the likes of RUNNING WILD and also GRAVE DIGGER, deeply steeped in the Eighties, and Jens still does not sound like an operatic singer, but guess what, this time around it works! Probably also thanks to the mixing and mastering by DARK AGE’s Eike Freese “Made In Hell” has the power to support the compositions and it seems as if Jens also worked on his voice, which sounds more controlled than before.
The double-bass barrage of “Shadowland” kicks the album off in style and while RUNNING WILD come through everywhere, it is a thoroughly enjoyable song that leads into the stomping hymn “Divine Art Of Lies”, which still maintains a nice set of dynamics, same goes for “Host Of The Dark”. Now as mentioned, RUNNING WILD seem to be the probably biggest influence on the Frenchmen (in the riffing, the vocals, the song structure) and when you add to that a song with the title “Seawolf”, what do you expect?
Obviously the voice still will split the listeners, but now that Jens has struck the right balance it adds to the character of the songs and seems more original than the latest high-flyer. A good example for this is another one of my personal favourites, “Black Heaven”. Heeeaaavy riffing, heavy rhythm, dark atmosphere, but still cool melodies, here the gritty organ of Jens completes the overall mood of the song. So yeah, originality is not the strongest suit of LONEWOLF’s music, but in this particular style I think more or less everything has been done one way or the other by now, and it also definitely helps to be a fan of older RUNNING WILD (which I am) to appreciate the efforts of the French band.
So, “Made In Hell” is definitely a big step forward, enjoyable, well done, more balanced, with better production, so while still not a stellar release, it is more than solid and should satisfy the craving for traditional Heavy/Power Metal of the slightly gruffer kind.
(Online November 23, 2008)