Album Review: Wolfsbane – “Wolfsbane Save The World”
“Ladies and gentlemen … Al Gore cannot save the world, he is shit. A Spice Girls reunion cannot save the world. A Led Zeppelin reunion cannot save the world. There is only one band that can save the world … WOLFSBANE!”
Thus spake Blaze Bayley upon introducing his band at their comeback gig supporting the Wildhearts a few years ago. A grand statement of intent, sure, but believe you me, there’s plenty of rock fans in their late thirties/early forties who tend to get all misty-eyed and nostalgic at the days when Tamworth’s finest were raiding the venues (and beer cellars) of this country to an audience of rabid fans, the self-proclaimed “Howling Mad Shitheads”, all to a soundtrack of good old fashioned beer ‘n’ scratchings Britrock albums such as “Down Fall The Good Guys” and “All Hell’s Breaking Loose Down At Little Kathy Wilson’s Place”.
Having been a couple of years too young to see Wolfsbane first time around and thus only really discovering them a good decade or so after the group’s original demise (brought about by the onset of grunge and Bayley leaving for an ill-fated stint fronting Iron Maiden), I wasn’t sure about what to expect from their highly-anticipated (well, by the HMS contingent at least) comeback album. As it turns out, I needn’t have been so confused. This is classic Wolfsbane all the way down the line with Blaze and his cohorts picking up the baton so effortlessly that you’d swear they’d never been away.
Opening track “Blue Sky” lays down the intentions right from the start – it’s a five-minute Britrock Charge of the Light Brigade storming through on a rollicking riff with no thought for its own safety. Followed by the superbly OTT “Teacher” (which sees Blaze upping the cartoon sleaze to almost Dave Lee Roth levels) and the pounding “Buy My Pain”, it seems business as usual. But track four is a bit of a curveball as Wolfsbane chuck in a superbly-executed ballad “Starlight” which shows they’ve picked up a few new tricks during their time away but have the nous to know how to fit them in along with their classic sound without sounding out of place as evidence by them following “Starlight” with the Van Halen fist in the air rock anthem dynamics of “Smoke And Red Light” (catchier than the entire contents of a fish hook shop). Put it up against some of their one-time peers treading the boards these days who give the impression of being long since out of ideas and motivation and it’s clear that Wolfsbane aren’t as dumb as some people think.
In fact, maybe the main plus point of “Wolfsbane Save The World” is the sheer variety of stuff on offer here from the Meatloaf style rock bombast (and I mean that in a good way I promise) of “Illusion Of Love” through the punky “Everybody’s Looking For Something Baby” to the trippy “Child Of The Sun” with its waves of guitars gently washing over and building up to a big Beatles-y chorus. It all ends with “Did It For The Money”, a classic slice of Wolfsbane, driving riff, snarled vocals, the works basically.
So yeah, who’d’ve thunk it? Wolfsbane, often derided as the knuckleheads of late ’80s Britrock, have come up with a comeback album which has variety, power, riffs and killer choruses in equal measure and puts a lot of their one-time contemporaries to shame. Good to have you back lads, hopefully it’ll be for the long haul.
Visit www.wolfsbanehms.com for details of where to grab the album.