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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

REVIEW: Wolf (UK) - Edge of The World (1984)

Wolf Edge of The World 1984

Wolf are a band from UK, originally started as Leviathan in 1977, then swapping name to Black Axe briefly, until once again changing name to Wolf in 1981. The band plays purely honest NWOBHM with rocking edge, very memorable metallic leads, and rather unique melodies. Edge Of The World suffers from rather weak mix. A good thing is that sound mix has all instruments being quite well audible, but it's weak in terms of lacking punch. The sharp riffs exist, but are let down a bit by the below average sound quality, which is a shame. However, despite not-so-heavy sound-mix, this album manages to sound interesting and quite fresh. Sound quality is not so bad that I would want to be a nitpick about it, though. Afterall, great sound quality and production never was trademark of NWOBHM bands, but many of them are still fully enjoyable today. Chris English for starters is interesting singer. He does that regular mid-pitched vocal duty that we could expect from an NWOBHM band, with a slight twist of unique throaty rawness to his voice, while at the same time sounding more melodic than your average singer of the genre. Slightly throaty raspy soar is something I can't recall hearing too often these days.

The guitar tone itself is interesting, with some light reverb and flanger (I think) pedals used, just enough to make it sound sort of epic and mind-expanding, combined with sharp rhythm guitar riffs and dry guitar tone, very memorable melodic leads and certain amount of groove. On top of that lightly used occasional keyboard-notes expand some songs into another level, like the title track for example. Magical stuff. The slower keyboard backed songs sound rather "emotional" in a good way without being wimpy, but they sure are moody and will freeze your mind. Songs like these are aforementioned title track, A Soul For The Devil and Medicine Man. They just force your mind to go through different gloomy emotions with uplifting moments occasionally. They represent the more melodic side on Edge Of The World. It's hard to explain, but you truly should check this album out! It's got sort of a "mellow" side, but it's not happy most of the time. Drifting in quite opposite fields along with mysterious tone. Should I call this epic and mind-expanding NWOBHM? Perhaps, perhaps.. at least on some part of the material.

Rest In Peace is more upbeat rocker, playing with your mind evolving between uplifting and sad back and forth, and probably steals the pot for being best one in the album, although it's got quite a bit competition. Highway RiderHeaven Will Rock'n'Roll and Head Contact are more straightforward NWOBHM tracks without featuring depth-adding keyboards. But even the most straight-forward trio has something special in their feeling and sound. Not much fillers are included in Edge of The World.

Edge Of The World is a damn interesting album from it's era and especially out of it's style, which quite often used to be rather straight-forward in terms of riffs and musical approach. For those seeking the ultimate heaviness from the era, or even from NWOBHM, may well be slightly disappointed with Edge Of The World, as it features quite light (but audible) sound mix with instruments, while the composition and music-wise the heaviness would be about average in NWOBHM -genre. Edge Of The World is not heavy as Venom's Black Metal, or even Tank's Honour & Blood, or furious as Jaguar's Power Games, but sure is true heavy metal to the roots, and not some mellowed-down stuff, like several bands belonging to NWOBHM genre used to release at those days, while getting confused whether they should be playing heavy metal or AOR. Edge Of The World, however, has got it's share of the sharp and mean attitude too, despite it wasn't one of the heaviest offerings around back then!

Edge Of The World reminds me a bit of late seventies - early eighties Saxon mixed with some more melodic and little bit more complex keyboard backed material, with maybe even touch of Demon's The Unexpected Guest. Best feature of the album is very memorable and fresh sounding material, with unique musical tone, featuring very good vocals by Chris English, and rich memorable guitar-work by Bill Keir & Simon Sparkes duo, especially on the standout tracks that are not quite as straight-forward as some of the rest. At some point you can hear influences from Saxon's Motorcycle Man, while at the next five minutes you'll be taken into more complex and mind-expanding trip, still featuring that trademark sound of NWOBHM, but with something unique combined to it like in the title track. The album is also "mood-switcher", playing tricks switching between sad and uplifting melodies. Only the fact that there are several more straight-forward rockers, while the more complex songs are obviously the most memorable and unique on the album, limits me giving this album a score over 90, but I will grant 90 even!

This album was great when I first time heard it, and it has grown to be even more unique. Very strong release, featuring few of the most epic moments of NWOBHM genre I've heard. An album that can well top a few more well known releases by some of the major bands, and remaining sadly the only release by the band. (Review enhanced, corrected, and re-evaluated in 22.7.2013)

90 | reviewer: dungeoncrawler

  • Stewart Richardson - Bass
  • John Shearer - Drums
  • Bill Keir - Guitars
  • Simon Sparkes - Guitars
  • Chris English - Vocals

  • 1. Edge Of The World 03:47
  • 2. Highway Rider 02:42
  • 3. Heaven Will Rock'n'Roll 03:27
  • 4. Shock Treatment 04:08
  • 5. A Soul For The Devil 05:49
  • 6. Head Contact (Rock'n'Roll) 03:18
  • 7. Rest In Peace 04:04
  • 8. Too Close For Comfort 03:05
  • 9. Red Lights 02:59
  • 10. Medicine Man 04:36
    • Total running time: 37:55

For Collectors:
(Following prices have raised since ’99 but will give you direction)
Used album price @ Martin Popoff’s Heavy Metal Record Price Guide (1999):

Label –Mausoleum/8323
Type – LP/B/84
Near Mint – $35
Very Good+ - $20

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