Abaddon magazine

Music magazine

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Review: Wolf -Shadowland

Label: Century Media Records

Date: April 1st, 2022

Long time ago, my former editor told me he has an annoying band whose singer sounds like a run over cat to review and he just cannot do it. Curious as I am, I took it and guess what? What is for someone thrash, for someone is treasure.

Some might say you cannot reinvent the wheel, there is no creativity in metal anymore, everything has already been heard, written, played, there is no originality, but Wolf will beat that down.

The band premiered the first single “Dust” back on January 28th, 2022 and from the very first riff you know that is it, Wolf have created a unique sound ages ago and they keep it alive. No need to analyze the single since Niklas Stålvind already said:

“This is the opening track of our new album, ‘Shadowland.’ Classic, up-tempo Wolf metal, heavy and melodic. We hope you enjoy this one because there’s more where that came from. Cheers!”

I couldn’t agree more with him.  “Dust” is only one of the twelve songs served on “Shadowland”. Ok, my promo has only eleven, does not include “In the Twilight Zone”.

The next single “Shadowland”, which is number 6 on the album, was released on February 24th, 2022. Obviously the fans liked what the wolves served, so Niklas Stålvind stated:

“Thank you all for giving ’Dust‘ such a warm welcome! We hope you will like the new song ’Shadowland‘as well and give it many spins. A bit darker perhaps, and a bit more mysterious, showing another side of our new album. Nevertheless, 100% Wolf metal. Enjoy!”

Back to the order! “Visions for the Blind” is another melodic piece where, in my personal opinion, the whispering parts in the end of the song are the actual highlight. “Secrets…” Can be frightening, can be seductive, depending on the listener’s perspective.

I was always wondering how it would be to travel through time, and that idea goes back to 2002 when the movie based on the 1895 novel by the same title was released. “The Time Machine” has a bit heavier riffs, with the great bass line delivered by Pontus Egberg. The ultimate question is:

“If we ever build the time machine
Could we ever make things right?
If we ever build the time machine
Would we ever make things right?”

It seems Wolf have a pessimistic point of view (“I think… not. What do you think?”), but to tell you the truth, they are absolutely right.

“Evil Lies” brings pure punk vibe at the beginning, speed tempo song, great melodic rhythm and after lies what do you need? Silence? If you “Seek the Silence” you cannot expect a powerful song, right? Well, at least not in a musical sense, but the lyrics deliver a very powerful message. Niklas Stålvind joined the forces with Simon Johansson and delivered sensational guitar parts.

And now we come to my favorite subject. Simply, when any band writes the lyrics based on urban legend, I am all ears. Here we deal with Edward Mordrake, who had been mentioned for the first time in 1895 by fiction writer Charles Lotin Hildreth. The article he wrote was inspired by human freaks, and guess, Edward was one of those. Man with the face on the back of his head. And it could whisper, laugh or cry. Mr. Mordrake begged doctors to remove it since it was whispering bad things to him during the night. Poor Edward committed suicide at the age of 23, but his spirit is still alive. The rhythm of the song goes in Judas Priest’s direction, again, guitar parts stand out in the song which title I even forgot to mention – “The Ill-Fated Mr. Mordrake”.

“Rasputin”, another “freak” who proclaimed himself a healer with the ability to predict the future got his place on this album. This is a mid tempo song with concrete lyrics, again great guitar parts, but in this song it seems drums overtook the main role. Johan Koleberg was so emphasizing, but did a great job. Call me insane, but the song has weird energy

If you want out, search for the “Exit Sign”. Although the previous two songs were middle paced, do not get me wrong, but all those who are Wolf’s fans know they simply shine in fast tempo songs. There you can feel their pure energy and passion and hear recognizable riffs. “Exit Sign” as well as the last one, at least regular, “Into the Black Hole” are closing the album in Wolf’s style.

Believe it or not, somehow the bonus songs are always my favorites so “Trial in Fire” might be that. Simply, the song has a great change of rhythm, although it is not Niklas’s trademark, you can feel the rage in his voice.

What I have always liked about Wolf is their unique, recognizable sound. Also, their slight flirting with occultism is what you would not expect within the genre they represent. On this album, Wolf is covering two main topics. The band focuses on two topics. The first one: humans from the perspective of let’s say insertion to the universe. Second: the dark side of mankind. Perfectly appropriate topics for the moment in which we live in, in physical, cognitive, social, cultural, emotional and any other aspect. 

From the “Wolf” (1999, Prosthetic Records) that has the most adorable album cover, over “Black Wings” (2002, No Fashion Records), “Evil Star” (2004, No Fashion Record), my personal favorites “The Black Flame” (2006, Century Media Records) and “Ravenous” (2009, Century Media Records), “Legions of Bastards” (2011, Century Media Records), “Devil Seed” (2014, Century Media Records), “Feeding the Machine” (2020, Century Media Records) to “Shadowland” (2022, Century Media Records), I am always glad to hear what Örebro based wolves, formed back in 1995 as Wolverine will offer to their fans. Although the album will be released on April 1st, this is not a joke: “Shadowland” is one of their best releases by now.