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Saturday, February 28, 2015

CD-Review: Wolfpakk - "Rise Of The Animal"

Just two years after their second release the "Wolfpakk" is back. The allstar-project of Michael Voss (Mad Max, ex-Casanova) and Mark Sweeney (ex-Crystal Ball) goes into the third round with "Rise Of The Animal" and the duo Voss/Sweeney managed it again to invite many famous guests to join the wolf pack in a short period of time. So the concept is still the same: we have a huge number of well-known musicians here, who leave their own mark on this album, but is this really enough? Let's find out!

You know there are so many allstar-projects out there, I just can't count them. Mostly these projects are based on conceptional Metal Operas and this is something that makes Wolfpakk different: there isn't a story that has to be told, there aren't any charakters or something like that. It is just straight ahead Melodic Metal with guest singers and there is nothing wrong with that. But just a huge number of guests doesn't ensure a great album. The key is still good songwriting and what stands out on "Rise Of The Animal" (compared to previous records) is the fact that the songs are more catchy and more heavy at the same time.

But first of all let us take a look at the guestlist. "Rise Of The Animal" features the biggest line-up I've seen in recent allstar-projects. Names like Michael Kiske (Unisonic, ex-Helloween), Andi Deris (Helloween), Ryan Roxie (Alice Cooper), John Norum (Europe), Ted Poley (Danger Danger), Joe Lynn Turner (ex-Rainbow, ex-Deep Purple), David Reece (ex-Accept), Axel Rudi Pell, Don Dokken (Dokken), Marc Storace (Krokus), Chris Slade (ex-AC/DC) and many, many others make you think that this must be Heavy Metal heaven and most of the time it really is.

Mainly the songwriting is on a very high level. Here are some highlights: "Sock It To Me" (feat. Marc Storace) is a huge pounding Hard Rocker as well as "Monkey On My Back" (feat. Ted Poley) that features a moody, but catchy chorus line. The next stand-out track is the celtic Folk-Metal tune "Highlands" with a fantastic vocal performance by the mighty Joe Lynn Turner. "Somewhere Beyond" (feat. David Reece) could easily be a Happy Metal tune from Freedom Call with its great sing-along chorus and the title track "Rise Of The Animal" is another winner - an epic long track with great atmosphere and the majestic voice of Michael Kiske. "Universe" is the last track that features also a great atmosphere and the female vocals of Michaela Schober give the song some kind of Nightwish-feeling. You see the variety is definitely there. Melodic Metal, Heavy Metal, Epic Metal, Hard Rock - here you find everything our beloved genre has to offer and all guest musicians make a pretty good firgure on this album.

So you have all these big moments, but at the same time you have again some tracks that can't keep up to the high level of songwriting of the tunes I mentioned above. Songs like the opener "Rider Of The Storm", "Grizzly Man" and "High Roller" sound a bit too generic and too familiar to my ears, so they couldn't grab my attention.

Productionwise everything is fine - the overall sound is powerful and in-your-face with some edges here and there, so the sound is not too polished, which is a very good thing. Speaking about the performence of Michael Voss and Mark Sweeney I just can say I really like their raspy voices paired with their agressive vocal style on this album. OK, here and there they overdo it a bit with their "evil" Metal attitude, but all in all it fits the music and kicks ass.

So in the end I just can say that "Rise Of The Animal" is another fine release, which I really enjoyed. There are some little fillers on here, but the outstanding moments are much more present, so I can recommend this album to each and everyone who loves Melodic Metal. "Rise Of The Animal" is Wolfpakk's best album so far and the fantastic performances of all involved musicians are easily worth your money and your time! I'm really looking forward to the fourth album and can't wait to see its final line-up. 



01. Rider Of The Storm
02. Sock It To Me *
03. Monkey On Your Back *
04. Highlands *
05. Black Wolf
06. Somewhere Beyond *
07. Running Out Of Time
08. Grizzly Man
09. High Roller
10. Rise Of The Animal *
11. Universe *

* best tracks

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