Wolf - Legions of Bastards (Century Media)

Wolf love the glory of metal. Sometimes they love it a little too much for comfort, however...
Release Date: 
25 Apr 2011 (All day)

Do you miss the feeling you had when you first heard Number of the Beast or British Steel? That’s the first sentence of the press release accompanying Legions of Bastards, Wolf’s sixth album. I do as it goes, I miss the feeling I got when I heard both of those albums for the first time. It’s very rare in 2011 that any record evokes such rose-tinted memories and… LoB isn’t one of them. Album opener Vicious Companions is a fair enough starter, fast and furious, riding the universe, carving- er sorry, got a bit carried away there… Anyway it’s a song that would like to be one of those Priest-style album openers, heading out to the highway, but it just fails to hit the spot, mainly because the band appear to be trying just a tad too hard to get things just so. Likewise second song Skull Crusher – it’s an almost flawless synthesis of Priest and Accept – which just seems to have a ‘written to order’ feel about it that, good song though it is, doesn’t sit quite right.

Full Moon Possession follows, and now we’re getting somewhere. A slightly skewed beat, a bit of personality in the riffwork, a neat solo – this is what we want. It’s the first song that doesn’t make you think of something you’ve heard before, and I like it. Jekyll & Hyde moves still further away from the temple of Rob, KK and Glenn, being a slinky, lascivious slither through Ozzy Osbourne’s underwear draw (well, his home studio at least…) sounding like the sort of slightly grubby material he used to record around the time of the Ultimate Sin album. It’s almost classic.

And that really is the theme of this album- almost. Wolf have made a nice little career out of tributing the original Gods of metal, so what incentive do they have to stretch their wings a little? The answer of course is none,  and so what you get with Legion of Bastards is entertaining enough, but strangely unsatisfying. There are moments – like when the solo starts in the middle of Absinthe, for instance – when you will almost get that feeling mentioned in the press release. Almost. But too often LoB just becomes pleasant background burble – white noise for the black generation – it’s OK, but when albums like The Number of the Beast and British Steel already exist, that fact renders Legion of Bastards irrelevant from the get go. Almost.