Sweden's Wolf are back with their fourth release, titled The Black Flame, this time produced by Fredrick Nordstrom, after working with Peter Tagtgren for much of their career. Here on The Black Flame the band seems to have shed much of their prior reliance on the Iron Maiden sound, and although the band still pounds out early 80's styled metal from the Maiden/Priest school, they are now starting to really show their own identity. There's one powerhouse metal anthem after another here, and for power metal fans who hate the cheese factor that comes with so many bands these days, you can feel confident that you'll get little of that here.
Crunchy riffs, tasty dual harmonies, and venemous vocals are all the rage on tunes like "Bite", "At the Graveyard", and "I Will Kill Again", while galloping rhythms, histrionic melodies, and tasty guitars slay the listener on "Black Magic". Speaking of tasty guitars, "Make Friends with Your Nightmares" sees both Johannes Losback and Niklas Staivand firing off plenty of memorable harmony lines and power riffs. Other strong cuts include the prog-metal stylings of the heavy "Demon", the bulldozing rhythms of "Dead", and the powerhouse fury that is the title track, a real mysterious yet kick ass piece led by Staivand's piercing vocals and dark guitar crunch.
Nordstrom's production is fantastic here, but the only complaint is that Staivand's vocals are mixed a tad too loud, and at times he dominates the songs a bit too much. Considering his commanding and high register styled delivery, this might be a little distracting for some, but overall this is very solid classic style metal release for those who are also into the retro sounds from bands like Astral Doors, Icarus Witch, Dream Evil, Shadow Demon, and Cage.
1. I Will Kill Again
2. At the Graveyard
3. Black Magic
5. Make Friends with Your Nightmares
8. Seize the Night
9. Steelwinged Savage Reaper
10. Children of the Black Flame