I think it was divine intervention that made me idly wonder what Wolf was up to a few days ago. Lazily I clicked on their website, chuckling as I always do at their enthusiastic proclamations of how great they are, and was driven to fangirl shrieks when I realized they have a new album, Legions of Bastards, coming out not only this year, but this very month. And guess what? It’s pretty great.

2009’s Ravenous, while filled with classic Wolf riffs and squeals (guitar and vocal), did not get my blood pumping quite as much as some of their earlier stuff. In contrast, it’s safe to say that Legions of Bastards is one of the most fun releases of the year so far. Starting off with“Vicious Companions,” you get a taste of some pretty standard racing heavy metal. That is until the vocals come in and it’s just everything you love (or rather, I love) about Wolf.

Songs like “Hope To Die” make up most of the album: fast-paced, galloping guitars that err into Judas Priest riffs, with the bellowing vocals that hold every note until they’re practically overlapping. “Skull Crusher” is another classic — the perfect song for a fight montage. But that’s another typical Wolf thing; you can clearly paint an image for every song.

“Jakyll and Hyde” is the standout track. It’s got that comic-book horror feel that I really enjoy, like “Make Friends With Your Nightmares” from The Black Flame. It’s creepy, and, though a little meandering, it has such a soaring, catchy chorus that you’re willing to forgive it. To go along with that theme is a song that’s actually called “Tales From the Crypt.” (I admit, I used to adore the show in all its kitschy camp horror — and yes, I was young enough that I occasionally got kind of terrified). It’s your typical fast Wolf song until you get to the solo, which is quite unlike their previous songs and has kind of an Accept vibe to it. But when paired with the drums, it’s an interesting break in the song before returning to the main melody.

As always, I leave the last paragraph to discuss the album artwork, of which I wholeheartedly approve. I love crescent moons (I have one tattooed to me), so one featuring skeletons and fire and a reaper-like figure? Can’t go too wrong with that. It’s simple and to the point, much likethe band’s previous releases. Trying not to picture the Hans Arnold masterpiece from their self-titled albums.

(3 1/2 horns out of 5)



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