Never Cry Wolf
With the old school heavy metal renaissance in full swing, the novelty of bands reaching back to the traditional sounds of decades past has worn rather thin. Fans of the movement (I am in fact one of those fans, if you haven't guessed) have begun adopting a critical ear, demanding precision - if not ingenuity - from outfits looking to make an impact on the style. Succeed, and you will be revered. Falter, and you will be shunned. It's a dog-eat-dog metal world, my friends, but it's a world that Dutch traditional metallers Lord Volture hope to conquer with their sophomore release Never Cry Wolf.
If you're a regular reader of this blog, and I hope that you are or soon will be, you've probably noticed that I prefer to hit an album's high points right off the bat, saving any criticisms for the later paragraphs of the review. With Never Cry Wolf, however, I feel that it's only fair to you, dear readers, to shine the spotlight on the album's one glaringly obvious deficiency right from the get-go. Simply stated, frontman and Lord Volture founder David Marcelis struggles to deliver the goods. There are a precious few moments when his singing adequately compliments the band's sound, but for the most part he screams and screeches his way through the lyrics. The strongest vocal moments occur when Marcelis is joined by his bandmates during a refrain or gang shout, excepting of course the supporting contributions from Cage's Sean Peck on "Into the Lair of a Lion". Tragically, though, Marcelis needs quite a bit more refinement before he's on par with the music created by his band.
As glaringly deficient as the vocals are, Never Cry Wolf benefits from a strong guitar sound provided by Leon Hermans and Paul Marcelis. Tracks like "Taiga", "Celestial Bodies Fall", and "I Am King" boast meaty, sometimes menacing riffs that help support comparisons to power metal stalwarts like Jag Panzer and U.D.O.. Lord Volture's riffs are less polished than those from their more established brethren, but on several tracks they provide plenty of punch and even - on "Korgon's Descent" - an exotic flair. The two guitarists are also in the habit of launching some rather impressive twin guitar solos to go along with their infectious riffs, those of "Korgon's Descent" and "Taiga" being most interesting.
Elsewhere on Never Cry Wolf, bassist Simon Geurts exerts his presence with some noticeable leads. His funky little break on "Taiga", just before Hermans and P. Marcelis launch into one of their fine dueling solos, is a nice touch. Drummer Frank Wintermans deserves mention for keeping Never Cry Wolf pumping along at a nice clip, aside from the rather generic acoustic ballad "Brother" of course.
Musically enjoyable, Never Cry Wolf is an album that would make a positive impression on fans of traditionally-inspired heavy metal if only the vocals were on a level with the instrumentation. Until such a time, Lord Volture will likely not share the same success as other old school outfits have.
|1||Never Cry Wolf||7:05|
|4||Celestial Bodies Fall||7:26|
|6||Minutes to Madness||4:49|
|8||I Am King||6:42|
|9||Into the Lair of a Lion||8:06|
|11||The Wolf at Your Door||7:56|
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