The Original four Howling Mad Shitheads return with a fourth studio album. Blaze Bayley, Jase Edwards, Steve Danger, Jeff Hateley reunited in 2010, 21 years from their debut album Live Fast, Die Fast.
It is a world away from the Tamworth band’s youthful days, they have mellowed with age but they are still the classic NWOBHM band in many ways. Blue Sky is laden with riffs that characterise Wolfsbane’s style, it’s a positive, lively biker rock song with a softer side and epic vocals. Teacher could be vintage Motley Crue or even Steel Panther, pure dirty sex and no shyness about it. Buy My Pain has a Monty Python mocking comedy about it, frantic drumming and hard guitars.
In contrast Starlight is softer, almost romantic and sensitive. Smoke & Red Light is joyous and reminisces about the early days for the band, its rebellious in attitude and cocky. Meatloaf would be proud of Illusion of Love, dueting with female vocalist Givvi Flynn and operatic in vocal range, down to the revving motorbikes this is pure Steinman. Live Before I Die with a highly unexpected Ska/Reggae breakdown, it slides from one style to another and back again effortlessly. Who Are You now features Givvi on backing vocals again, and has stunning harmonies and a recognisable riff, alternative in genre, being more electro than metal. Everybody’s Looking For is back to a more metal style, Blaze is grittier and it has a dirtier sound and even some harmonica. Child of the Sun leans towards the feel of fellow West Midlanders Magnum, in its style, grander and epic. Finally, Did it for the Money is the most Wolfsbane song of the lot, it would not be out of place on the debut album.
I consider myself lucky, I got to see Wolfsbane as a fresh young band, with attitude and energy. They were the blokes band, with no respect for the rules and a love of life, here they are still the same. Blaze has lost none of the quality to his voice, and they still don’t make the records they are expected to, but the ones they want to.
One thing that stands out for me is that Wolfsbane are not trying to recreate the past, this is not stuck in the rut of 1993 before Maiden, they are not the same people as then and their music has evolved too. This is a varied CD, with lots to offer and while the core is still very much the 4 blokes hanging out at the pub, it is decorated with awesome riffs, pounding drums, juicy bass and some of the best vocals from a British artist. It has twists, turns and surprises and most of all it rocks!
8 out of 10