Swedish Heavy Metal Legends Wolf continue their legacy of more than 25 years (and counting) on the band’s ninth studio album, ‘Shadowland’. Led by founding vocalist/guitarist Niklas Stalvind, the new LP is the band’s sixth offering on Century Media Records; boasting eleven tracks of intrepid, old school power metal. Throughout their tenure of more than a quarter-century, Wolf have toured with some of metal’s most respected names. Revered by fans for invoking the untamed bravado of bands like Iron Maiden and Mercyful Fate, the group balances harrowing, sky-piercing vocal performances with rollicking guitars and power-punching drum beats on ‘Shadowland’.
The new album boasts some serious musical strides for Wolf, most notably the continued presence of bassist Pontus Egberg (King Diamond) and drummer Johan Koleberg (ex-Therion, ex-Lion’s Share), both of whom first appeared on the band’s previous record, 2020’s ‘Feeding The Machine’. However, Niklas shares that ‘Shadowland’ started with very different intentions in mind before it would take shape into the finished product. “When Pontus and Johan joined the band, I had four songs written. I wrote Shadowland for myself, thinking that it might turn up on a solo project or something else. My writing process was to dig deep into my unconsciousness and just let the songs take form, without trying to overthink it.
Coming out the gate with sinister riffs and firepower on all fronts, the album’s opener “Dust” kicks things off with a masterclass on NWOBHM stylings that sends shivers and thrills galore. The band keeps the pedal to the metal on the tracks that follow, whether it’s the speed/ballad shapeshifting of “Visions For The Blind”, the haunting barrage that is “Rasputin”, or the livewire shredding that electrifies “Exit Sign”. Looking back on the lyrical concepts behind these tracks, Niklas adds, “When the songs were written I could see two main themes of the album. One is the idea of us humans as an insignificant parenthesis in the history of a universe. The album opens with ‘Dust’, which is exactly about that, and the album closes with a ride ‘Into the Black Hole’, which is the actual song title. The other theme is what I usually write about; the darker side of humankind that I think we all have to a varying degree. The shadow self if you will. It’s there – better face it than pretend that it’s not.”
‘Shadowland’ enters its home stretch with thunderous anthems, be it the uproar and invocation of “The Ill-Fated Mr. Mordrake” or the desperate howls that echo through “Into The Black Hole”, each track walks a duality of unstoppable might and overwhelming dread. Stalvind comments on the overall vibe of the record, saying, “I would say sound-wise it reminds me of and updated version of ‘Evil Star’ (2004) with that in-your-face clarity where you could hear everything crystal clear, but this has more depth to it, with lots of sounds lurking in the shadows that make it more intriguing for the listener. The songs, on the other hand, remind me more of 2006 album ‘The Black Flame’, which is very melodic, but also sinister and heavy.” Hammering that point home, ‘Shadowland’ reaches its conclusion with a boundless, winding road of soul-blazing solos and undaunted defiance on the bonus track “Trial By Fire”. The song’s final line, seemingly both an invitation and a warning to the unprepared, “I’ll see you on the other side.”
Niklas Stalvind – Vocals, Guitar
Simon Johansson – Guitar
Pontus Egberg – Bass
Johan Koleberg – Drums
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