"Wolfpakk is an ambitious project idealized by Mark Sweeney (ex-Crystal Ball) and Michael Voss (Mad Max, ex-Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock), and ‘Wolves Reign’ is their fourth studio album in a span of 7 years. I say ambitious because these guys are both vocalists and still had the idea of displaying guest vocalists in each of their songs, making every album a singer’s paradise. This time around, Voss and Sweeney recruited the overwhelming number of 26 musicians (yes, TWENTY SIX, it’s not a typo) to join them in yet another journey to the curious and ever-fun land of melodic heavy metal with pinches of hard rock and AOR.
All of this information may sound alarming to the unsuspecting listener and even boring to those who seek straight-forward music without a million duets (or trios, as it is with Wolfpakk and their guests), but I assure you that this album is very easy to digest. As I said above, there are 26 guest musicians in ‘Wolves Reign’, so for the sake of my sanity and in the hopes of not confusing you, I will only mention a few of them and let you guess the others when the album comes out on April 28th (ok, ok, don’t cry, I’ll leave a link after the review displaying every guest).
“Falling” opens the effort with a burst, in a very AOR-like manner. Fans of Kiske/Somerville, Voodoo Circle and such will love the tune and its unpretentious riffs and changes of pace. The two best songs follow and raise the bar very high: “Run All Night” sees a Michael Vescera (ex-Loudness, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen) soaring high with his unique roars. The double-pedal fits the choir perfectly while the heavy/power atmosphere combines with Vescera, Voss and Sweeney’s voices to form a pretty badass tune, while “Blood Brothers” serves as the primitive and raw tune, with a very special participation by Saxon legend Byff Byford. The bass lines in this particular song are more evident and loud, providing a good amount of groove and extra spice to the experience, courtesy of Marc Lynn (Gotthard).
Other tracks such as “Wolves Reign” and “I’m Onto You” fill the belly of the hard rock enthusiasts, with the first one being a slow-tempo number surgically inserted to calm the nerves, while the second being close to what Shakra is used to do in the riff department with a more direct punch and that “in your face” attitude. “No Remorse” could easily be featured in an Avantasia album, so much so that Oliver Hartmann (Avantasia, ex-At Vance) makes his contribution in the catchy and sugary chorus. It’s a decent track, but it actually doesn’t fit the whole idea of the album quite well.
“Inside the Animal Mind” is a rock ‘n’ roll anthem with that cool “motorcycle club” atmosphere; Jioti Parcharidis (Victory, ex-Human Fortress) does a great job of maintaining that laid-back vibe with his growls and simple-but-powerful vocal lines. “Scream of the Hawk” goes back to the melodic side of things and features another legend in the pack: Steve Grimmett (Grim Reaper) lends his lungs to the wolves, but actually sounds not as good as he normally would. His voice sounds far away and somewhat flat, which I blame on the production and mixing processes. “The 10 Commandments”, “Mother Earth” and “Tomorrowland” were constructed to form the epic part of the album, and while the first one is played in a safe and bland manner and could definitely be left out, the second is decent, although not succeeding in being deep and meaningful. It’s too long and static for its own sake, despite having some good bits; with half the length, the results would have been the same, so it sounds unnecessary. The third track of the “epic trilogy” is the only one that actually builds up energy. The choir in the chorus and the overall construction of the song far surpass the accepted threshold of quality and provides a great climax.
All in all, ‘Wolves Reign’ is a good and heterogeneous melodic metal album. It’s not an over-intelligent, multi-layered magnum opus, but I guess that was not Sweeney and Voss’s goal to start with. It’s fun, catchy and will provide a good amount of sing along moments in your car or your stereo, but it will most definitely not make you shit your pants with its grandiosity. Approach the pack slowly and steady, do not make any sudden moves or ask for anything more than what these wolves can offer, and you should fit the “wolfpakk” just fine." - Metal Wani