DEADLOCK
"Wolves"

(Lifeforce)

01. World Domination
02. We Shall All Bleed
03. Code Of Honor
04. Losers' Ballet
05. Dark Cell
06. Crown Of Creation
07. End Begins
08. As Words To Bullets
09. Praeludium II
10. Bloodpact
11. To Where The Skies Are Blue

RATING: 8.5/10

In 2005 Germany's DEADLOCK made a wonderful album called "Earth.Revolt" that mixed Gothenburg melodic death metal with lush keyboard-led atmospherics and the angelic vocals of then guest musician Sabine Weniger. Ms. Weniger is now a permanent member of the band and with "Wolves" DEADLOCK has hit the mark again with a consistently strong collection of songs.

Nearly matching the quality of its predecessor, the band has come up with a formula that expertly captures the beauty of Weniger's voice within the aggressiveness of the music, including Jonannes Prem's brutal growls. In fact, the one minor criticism I had about Prem on "Earth.Revolt" was that his vocals lacked a little fullness, which he has rectified on "Wolves". One of the noteworthy qualities of "Wolves" is that it could stand alone as a solid slab of Swedish style melodic death metal without the added elements. That the band has so ably infused the style with such memorable melodies, led by Weniger's infectious delivery and command of vocal patterns, and symphonic-tinged keyboards makes it a very well-written album.

The moments where brutality meets sweetness are many. "We Shall All Bleed" explodes with Prem's command of "Come on, motherfuckers!" immediately letting you know that the band has returned in a big way. The alternating vocals of Prem and Weniger and furious musical attack ultimately lead to the first of many catchy choruses, as Weniger's alluring voice leaps though the death/thrash fire during the chorus. "Code of Honor" continues in that mold and is also one of several examples of the group's commandingly melodic guitar lines and soaring solos. The album follows with songs that are deserving of the same sentiments. The moments in which the keyboards take center stage are enchanting a well, whether during the opening segment of seven-minute bruiser "Loser's Ballet" or the stunning piano ballad "To Where the Skies are Blue", which closes the album.

"Wolves" is a model of consistently. The group excels in the songwriting department and momentum is never lost, regardless of whether it is a full-on death metal romp or a majestic keyboard segment. As for Weniger, hers is a voice that the world needs to her. Few bands are able to pull off such seemingly contradictory musical elements and still manage to keep the listener's interest. Comparing "Wolves" to "Earth.Revolt", it's a close race. The main reason I'd lean toward "Earth.Revolt" as the better one is that the style was so surprisingly stunning and refreshing. This basically means that the band has found a comfortable groove on "Wolves" that puts it just about on par with its predecessor, not moving forward, but holding firm. Regardless, either album would come with a strong recommendation from this reviewer.

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