SKELETON WOLF
"Skeleton Wolf"

(Independent)

01. Bow Down to Earth
02. At the Sixth Foot
03. M.P.F.F.
04. Whatever Demons (We All Have Them)
05. Eternal Lies
06. She's Insane
07. Forever Awake

RATING: 7.5/10

Officially, SKELETON WOLF is a trio with an anonymous (and very talented) session drummer giving them monster thrust. Merging thrash, black metal, hardcore and power metal, SKELETON WOLF issues a debut album that maintains interest, at least for a while. At times, the album gets a little goofy. At times, it loses steam. More often than not, however, SKELETON WOLF rips.

A terrific intro to "Bow Down to Death" sets up a fast and noisy affair (the band drops a brief nod to METALLICA's "Blackened" before raging onward) as grubby growler Tim Green rips and tears with his black metal-bred rasps. The first minute forty-five of the 6:05 "At the Sixth Foot" is spent with a haunting guitar line plunking over the soundbyte of a presumed void with hellish bird squalling summoning the announcement of certain doom. Give SKELETON WOLF credit for some dramatic song openings as "At the Sixth Foot" plows along a steady double hammer roll with Jeff Mason and Brett Schlagel maintaining a locomotive throb overtop the song.

"M.P.F.F." is lyrically silly as all-hell (the acronym standing for, you know, metal, punk, fight, fuck), but there's no denying the song delivers a cool mosh kick that works, at least until the extensive breakdown-chugged outro. Appropriately looney is "She's Insane"later in the album. SKELETON WOLF heads into HIGH ON FIRE's manic stoner-droner turf for "Whatever Demons (We All Have Them)", throwing the song a black metal curveball to ugly up the track even further. As if Tim Green's saliva-slung spewing isn't nasty enough.

MANOWAR-styled power metal dives headfirst into a grinder on the 6:46 "Eternal Lies", as SKELETON WOLF whirls and slows the song at-will. An awkward halt from the tempo collisions creates room for an abruptly-dropped, somber guitar melody, feeling loosely reminiscent of the one better spooled within IRON MAIDEN's "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son". Some good ideas are laid into "Eternal Lies", even if it's ultimately exhausting.

This ends up being the final summation of SKELETON WOLF's debut album. A lot of good ideas, plenty of creative songwriting, a stockpile of great riffs and same damned fine drumming going to an uncredited drummer. Whoever that was, buy the dude or dudette more than a couple rounds. In end, the album starts fizzling out despite a gnarly guitar solo from Brett Schlagel on "She's Insane" and a couple of hearty pickups on "Forever Awake". At the least, this band has the makings of something really cool as they gain more experience together.

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