‘The Heathen Dawn’
(Massacre Records)

Sometimes writing a CD review is like playing the game Let’s Make a Deal; you never are quite sure what is behind Door number 1 or, when they were handing out assignments, should you have not opted for door 1, 2, or 3, and just picked what was in the big shiny box. After you have been given your assignment you are then left to decide if you got “Zonked “or did you, in fact, just win “The Big Deal of the Day? “

Lonewolf is a traditional metal band hailing from Grenoble, France that began their career in 1992. ‘The Heathen Dawn’ is their eighth album and second for the German Massacre label. They are a very classically European sounding metal band.  Guitarist Michael Hellstrom definitely has some skills, playing solos you could sink your teeth into without being redundant. The drums fit so well you almost don’t notice them.  Drummer Bubu Brenner embodies the music, fitting in so well the drums are barely noticed, which is the mark of a great drummer. Bassist Rikki Mannhard was in the pocket, solid, but not front and center. I like to be able to hear some serious bass, so that was lacking to these ears. The rhythm section as a whole was tight and very supportive, however this is a vocal and guitar based band.

Behind door number 1 was “When Angels Fall,” the fifth track on the album. The drums are predominant right away but Jens Borner’s vocals caught me by surprise; dark, rugged, gravely, and very heavy. His voice is comparative to Quiet Riot’s Kevin Dubrow. Not exactly the preconceived idea of what a Frenchman would sound like ….even in metal.

Behind door number 2 was the eleventh track, “Song for the Fallen.” From the first note it has that classic big European anthemic metal sound, very appealing; “An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, you will die” or “This is the song for the fallen one, that gave us the courage to stand and to fight” and “We all have to pay the price of war with the tears in our hearts …” You can see where I am going with this correct? The song has a great melodic groove to it and right in the middle the guitar sweeps in and momentarily pulls in a different direction, returning you after the tasty solo courtesy of Michael Hellstrom.

Behind door number 3 was “A Call to the Wolves,” the album’s leadoff number and an instrumental / intro. It has a very spiritual feel to it (not to be confused with “religious feel”).  I found myself playing this song over and over and quite frankly wishing it were longer.

So while I do not think this album is the equivalent to the “Big Deal of the Day” as Monty Hall would say, I absolutely do not think it was a “Zonk” either. It was like winning the new living room set instead of the trip to Italy…. nice and comfortable.

–  Phoenix Romero

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