Lonewolf - Unholy Paradise 2004 Goi Music reviewed by: EC
1. Stronger than Evil (Pagan Glory pt. 2) 2. 1789 3. S.P.Q.R. 4. Wild and Free 5. Snake in Eden 6. Behind the Cross 7. Unholy Paradise 8. Medieval Witchcraft 9. Phantomride 10. Erik The Red
It's always been rather interesting to see how various metal genres travel miles from their original starting point. You can look at places like Gothenburg, Sweden, where the melodic death metal sound began, and track its course from town to town, covering everything from Finland to North America. The Bay Area thrash scene began in San Francisco, but you can see traces of it throughout the ages, from places like England and Norway, through to the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan. The same can be said of German power metal, with Running Wild and Grave Digger leading the charge and leaving their mark eternally, with groups from Canada to Japan playing the Teutonic "old brew" in the same style as their German heroes. Now we find the German power metal sound in a little town called Grenoble, France.
In 2001 I tracked down a copy of Lonewolf's debut album, "March Into The Arena", after reading some reviews about it on the Running Wild band site. It turned out that Lonewolf had an unbelievable record on their hands, a shining first impression that led me to think these guys would only get better. "March Into The Arena" had great production, which is rather odd considering it was self-produced. The rich metal gallops of bigger acts like Helloween and Gamma Ray helped to solidify the band's induction into my "Who To Watch" list. Now, after a long hiatus, Lonewolf are howlin' at the moon again, with their sophomore release, "Unholy Paradise", courtesy of Goi Music.
The first thing I noticed upon listen was the band's step down in production values. Even with a record label involved, this album doesn't sound nearly as good as the debut. Its not unlistenable by any means, but the production is very demo-like. I also noticed that the group has a somewhat different guitar sound, probably due to new addition Dams, replacing previous guitarist Mark. This is a solid effort in my opinion, but I don't know if I really like it as much as the debut. Both are excellent in their own ways, with "Unholy Paradise" probably having more melody than the debut, but the writing and production seemed to have been sacrificed.
Opener "Stronger Than Evil" has a very catchy chorus, with plenty of Running Wild overtones. Vocalist and bassist Dryss is still very rough at the helm, reminding me of Grave Digger's Chris Boltendahl. "S.P.Q.R" delves into the pure essence of Maiden, with a perfect twin guitar mix, with drummer Felix gently marching forward, building into an explosive track of epic power, reminding me of bands like Squealer and Dark At Dawn at times, but still staying very close to the "old brew" sound.
"Wild And Free" takes a quick chat with early Heaven's Gate, while "Snake In Eden" journeys into the back catalogue of Accept. Album favorites "Medieval Witchcraft" and "Erik The Red" both combine on a wonderful German melodic power sound, with those dynamic group chantings.
"Unholy Paradise" has been up and down for me. Upon my first few listens, I was very dissapointed, mainly just with the production. After repeated attempts in my player, I have come to grips with the album. Even with the bad production job, there are some unbelievable songs on this disc, with "Unholy Paradise" being the perfect soundtrack for "How To Make German Metal". The vocals are the same as the debut, the new guitarist adds a little bit of depth to the group's sound, and the arrangements have been written around a great chorus. I really enjoy the debut, but this is a good follow-up attempt, and should help to enlist Lonewolf on the shopping lists.
About this Writer: Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has served as senior editor for MaximumMetal.com for nearly 10 years and is the author of the heavy metal book series--Denim & Letters. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia.
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