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.