Wülfhook - The Impaler (Divebomb Records)

Largely exciting stuff that bodes well for the future!
Release Date: 
17 Jul 2015 (All day)

At the minute mark in opening and title track The Impaler, Wülfhook vocalist Jeff ‘Sling’ Schlinz lays it down in no uncertain terms, unleashing a banshee wail that can only be described using the adjective Halfordesque. He’s then joined at full tilt by his bandmates who, despite hailing from Detroit, appear to be convinced that’s its still 1982 and they’re at the forefront of the NWoBHM.

This is no bad thing, of course, and as guitarists Jeff ‘Duke’ Dudick and Matt Martin whip out some marvellous harmony work mid track you’ll find yourself happily wallowing in the spot-on recreation of the classic works of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest contained within the track.

Brutal Nightmare is slightly more modern, a bit thrashier perhaps, with a whiff of prime-time Metal Church about it and another faultless performance from Schlinz. 

But then things start to drag slightly. And not even in a bad way – Through the Darkness and Bridge Burner are decent enough songs in their own right but the lack of truly memorable choruses and the similar tempos they utilise means they merge into one another a bit, and following track Samara’s Well is similarly stylistically nondescript. It’s all well and good taking bands like Maiden and Priest – and even Metal Church, to a lesser extent – as a template, but it has to be remembered that at their peak all those bands wrote bona fide classic heavy metal songs with huge, singalong choruses or guitar hooks you’d be whistling for days after just one listen. And though Wülfhook are fine musicians – Samara’s Well features some more splendid duel guitar work – they don’t yet quite possess the songwriting smarts to convert the true metal into something more appealing to ears beyond those of the already converted.

Eternal almost gets there, being a breakneck Quick and the Dead-style attempt at anthemic speed metal, with lashings of histrionics from Schlinz and the two axe men, not to mention some energetic work in the drum department from Jeff ‘Dit’ Dittner. It’s the best original track on the album, and at least points to these guys having the ability to mix things up a bit whilst staying true to the spirit of the band. But the big highlight for me on the album is the band’s excellent take on Van Halen’s Atomic Punk, faithfully recreated yet nicely re-energised for modern audiences. Again, it underlines the fact that these guys have some mighty fine chops; let’s hope that they can improve the finesse of their songwriting so that album number two realises the talent they obviously have more fully.