Legions Of Bastards
01. Viscous Companions
02. Skull Crusher
03. Full Moon Possession
04. Jekyll And Hyde
06. Tales From The Crypt
07. Nocturnal Rites
08. Road To Hell
09. False Preacher
10. Hope To Die
11. K-141 Kursk
[25/04/2011 | Century Media]
From the ages of 11-14 I had something of a love affair with a band called Iron Maiden. You may have heard of them, I mean they’re only one of the single most important metal bands ever and have more great albums than 99% of other acts. I had a good start: my parents owned the original self-titled debut on vinyl and I’d had constant exposure to all of their greatest hits, but when the volatile combination of pre-pubescent passion and regular paper round money hit, I bought EVERYTHING. T-shirts, CDs, vinyl, posters and EPs all graced the hallowed shrine to NWOBHM that I sometimes referred to as my bedroom. I had a cassette tape of Somewhere In Time (this is before I realised that there were websites out there other than Neopets so I only recently got my CD copy) that I played so much it magnetised and then… well then I completely burnt out and moved on.
But there is one band that keep that childhood flame alive for me. I’m not the hugest fan of the new progressive leanings in the modern Maiden albums, so a band that can fill that hole by making traditional heavy-fucking-metal songs is alright in my books. Wolf fit the mould, they’ve consistently made great albums full of catchy NWOBHM songs – despite having missed their deserved time by nearly thirty years.
Legions Of Bastards is thankfully no exception; the galloping riff and tasteful solo of opener “Vicious Companion” assure you instantly that you’re in good hands. Then it hits you with the chorus straight in the chest – it’s cheesy, and exciting but most of all it’s fun.
Fun isn’t an adjective that you normally give to metal but why shouldn’t it be? This is the sort of album that would be suited at a festival; you know, in conjunction with copious amounts of alcohol and sunburn. The sort of album that is designed to be sung by hundreds of people all at once and I find it hard to believe that even the most grim and frostbitten metaller would have an easy time shrugging it off and not at least cracking a grin. There’s a lot criticism fired towards the resurgence in ‘retro metal’ for just being a kitsch version of a once great genre, but Wolf have always had a much more endearing approach – sure they probably believe that British Steel is the greatest album ever made but they’re more interested in making great albums than recreating an atmosphere or an image.
“Jekyll & Hyde”, for instance, is a mid-tempo stomp that tells the story of a genuinely crazed individual/necrophiliac – a tale not too far from the deranged imagination of a legend like King Diamond. One of the most interesting things about this song is that you can tell that they’ve reined it in, it would have been very easy to overdo it with gratuitous guitar god wankery but they serve the song and instead concentrate on making a cohesive piece of music. “Absinthe”, “Hope To Die” and “Full Moon Possession” all follow suit with a fairly simple structure and formula, but all succeed in making songs that just make you want to bang your head.
Honestly, I’m just over 550 words into this review and I’m starting to get that I’m overthinking it. Legions Of Bastards isn’t meant to be analysed in any meaningful way, it’s meant to be enjoyed. If you want the complete run down, then yes, it’s probably some of their best material yet. Yes, it’s worth your money and despite the fact that the quality tapers off a little towards the end of the album with a couple of sub-par songs, it’s still one of my favourite albums of 2011 so far.
Wolf’s Legions Of Bastards gets: