Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Wolfpakk-Rise Of The Animal

AFM Records

Self-recorded at Germany's Kidromm Music, "Rise Of The Animal" is the third full-length release from all-star hard & heavy project Wolfpakk. With a grand total of 11 tracks, "Rise Of The Animal" follows the same premise as Wolfpakk's prior two releases in that you have group visionaries (and primary songwriters) Mark Sweeney (ex-Crystal Ball) and Michael Voss (Michael Schenker, Casanova, Mad Max) teaming up with a group of cherry-picked guest musicians for a hard rock/heavy metal LP. That's the Wolfpakk formula in a nutshell. It's nothing fancy and it certainly isn't complicated and the real truth of it all is that when it comes to these kind of pre-assembled pet projects there's nothing new under the sun. I believe I said as much in my coverage of this band's 2011 self-titled release and it's 2013' follow-up, "Cry Wolf". Both "Wolfpakk" and "Cry Wolf" were good album's even if they were far from being a novel idea. Originality isn't a strong suit when it comes to Wolfpakk's sound and that much holds true on album number three here. But, that has more to do with the actual guest singers involved with "Rise Of the Animal" than the actual music as a lot of the vocalists have distinct styles. Artists like Andi Deris (Helloween), Marc Storace (Krokus), Joe Lynn Turner (ex-Rainbow/Deep Purple), David Reece (ex-Accept), Ted Poley (Danger Danger) and Don Dokken (Dokken) give their respective numbers a real air of familiarity and that can leave the listener with a clear cut case of déjà vu. Opener "Rider Of The Storm" with Andi Deris (Helloween) on lead vocals sounds like a thousand other hard and heavy band we've all heard before while Joe Lynn Turner's "Highlands" sounds eerily like late-period Def Leppard. And of course the real easy example of how familiar it all is would be "Sock It To Me" with Krokus frontman Marc Storace. Obviously Krokus comes to mind as the number rolls along, but so does a heavier AC/DC. These "issues" were on hand with "Wolfpakk" and "Cry Wolf" and they stroll around during the course of these 11 tracks. I will let you in on a dirty little secret though. What bothered me about Wolfpakk's debut and sophomore album doesn't bother me as much here. Yes these numbers will remind you of other bands but it likely won't matter as much to you either as here's the difference. This album flat-out ROCKS! Opener "Rider Of The Storm" kicks in with a heavy groove and fierce bounce and there was never a moment when I dared hit next! Not even once! The third time is the charm as Mark Sweeney and Michael Voss have finally assembled the perfect line-up with one greet track after another! Ted Poley sounds nice on hard rocker "Monkey On Your Back" and when Charlie Huhn (Foghat/, ex-Gary Moore) takes his turn on "Grizzly Man" everything seems right with the world once more! Along with Rick Altzi (Masterplan), Jean-Marc Viller (Callaway), Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween, Unisonic) and Michaela Schober these various guest vocalists give their all for the cause and for fans of sincere hard rock and heavy metal there's no need to keep searching for the perfect mix as it's right here! Catchy songwriting is one thing but when it's done by a who's who list like this that's a whole new ballgame! You can see the actual list of musicians involved below, but for my money "Rise Of The Animal" has a line-up bar none! Due out on April 14th, "Rise Of The Animal" proves that it is possible to strike a familiar cord and still strike it rich!

 "Rise Of The Animal" musicians:

Guitarists: Jeff Watson (Night Ranger), Ryan Roxie (Alice Cooper), Bernie Torme (Ozzy Osbourne), John Norum (Europe), Doug Aldrich (ex-Whitesnake/Dio/Foreigner), Axel Rudi Pell, Martin Rauber.

Bassist: Bob Daisley (ex-Black Sabbath/Gary Moore), Al Barrow (Magnum), Barend Courbois (Blind Guardian).

Keys: Chris Ivo (
Jaded Hear)

Bagpipes: Pablo Allen (Skiltron; Dudelsack)

Drums: Mike Terrana (Tarja Turunen), Mark Schulman (Billy Idol, Foreigner), Simon Philips (ex-Toto), Chris Slade (ex-AC/DC), Gereon Homann.

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