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Leatherwolf: Unchained Live

Leatherwolf have existed in one form or another for over thirty years now, with the three prong guitar attackers being one of those bands who definitely fall into the "never got the crack of the whip they deserved" book of Heavy Metal. Formed in California back in 1987, Leatherwolf sat cleverly between out and out Metal and radio friendly Rock. This position should have left them reaping the benefits of the heavier inclined Metallica or Megadeth fanbase, while also having enough nouse to snare followers of the shinier Ratt or Crue nuts. In reality neither really happened and through two early self titled releases and the underground classic Street Ready from 1989, Leatherwolf amassed a hugely impressive catalogue of songs that made their diehard followers rabid with delight, while passing the masses by. The all elusive "break" never came and label apathy led to line-up musical chairs, a change of direction and an ill advised period under the moniker Hail Mary....

Fast forward to 1999 and the well received live effort Wide Open arrived like a surprise bolt from the blue, although it would be a further seven years before World Asylum announced the return of the band to the studio, New World Asylum following a year later. Then.....well nothing, 'till now that is, with Unchained Live being another welcome, excellent live return from the leather howlers. Three long standing members return, with vocalist/guitarist Michael Olivieri, bassist Patrick Guyton and drummer Dean Roberts all in their rightful places. However Unchained Live marks the debut from guitarists Rob Math and Greg Erba, ensuring the trademark three fret attack is back.

The only downside of Unchained Live is that it's only nine songs long, definitely leaving a "wanting more" experience but only because what is contained here illustrates perfectly just how scintillating the biting, harsh, yet melodic approach this band always favoured was and is. Math and Erba combine perfectly with Olivieri across a gaggle of classic 'wolf, adding just the right amount of energy and force into early rabble rousers "Spiter", "Kill And Kill Again" and "Rise Or Fall". While the only track not from the first three releases, "Dr. Wicked (Rx O.D.)", works equally well. Roberts and Guyton have lost none of their rhythmical clout, driving every song with a powerful thump, while, impressively the vocals from Olivieri don't appear to have aged a single day man he's good! Four Street Ready tracks close the show in mighty style, "Wicked Ways", "Hideaway", "Street Ready" and "Thunder" still being this band at their best. Something the crystal clear, yet in your face production from Roy Z (Judas Priest, Bruce Dickinson, Sepultura, Halford), catches superbly.

A new studio re-recording of the always fan-favourite Street Ready instrumental "Black Knight", is a welcome and value adding inclusion, even if it merely confirms how good the original was, rather than offering something new. Although if it is a sign that Leatherwolf are finally heading back into the studio for a new album, then it is reason for cheer.

Unchained Live is a superb reminder of just how good Leatherwolf were and obviously still are and will undoubtedly strike a chord with anyone with even a passing interest in US Heavy Metal of class and distinction.

Track Listing
1. Spiter
2. Kill and Kill Again
3. The Calling
4. Rise or Fall
5. Dr. Wicked (Rx O.D.)
6. Wicked Ways
7. Hideaway
8. Street Ready
9. Thunder
10. Black Knight (studio bonus)

Added: January 25th 2014
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Leatherwolf Online
Hits: 2678
Language: english

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