Lonewolf_The Heathen DawnDear mother: my battle for acceptance in the brutal world of AMG Amalgamated Blogworks, Ltd. goes on. I’ve survived the gauntlet of milquetoast prog submissions and am a better man for it. There is no respite for the “New Guy,” however: this week my inbox greeted me with a fist to the face in the form of a French power metal album and I fear I may not survive this next phase. Power metal and France typically do not go hand in hand. When I was there a few years ago, the first thing I saw was a statue of a unicorn standing over a naked woman, gold dripping from its horn. That’s not really power metal, is it? And yet here we are, cranking Lonewolf’s eighth studio album, The Heathen Dawn, with a certain guilty pleasure [Clean out your probationary work dumpster.Steel Management].

The proceedings start in an innocent and comical fashion, with an intro befitting the old Conan movies of the 80s – cheesy middle-eastern sounding strings, percussion, and choir – before breaking into what we all came to hear: an anthemic guitar opening that leads directly into the second song on the album, “Wolfsblut,” a rollicking, thunderous number. “Wolfsblut” is the first song with vocals, which is really the only issue on The Heathen Dawn. Founder/guitarist/vocalist Jens Borner’s pipes are definitely the weak point here. His gargling rasp is marginally acceptable, but becomes even more of a caricature than the genre itself. I’m sure fans of the band will point to this and say it’s part of Lonewolf’s endearing charm, but the issue with the vocals is the fact that Borner has a great deal of trouble hitting the higher notes. Why even try if you can’t stay in tune? Nowhere is this more evident than on “When The Angels Fall,” where Borner attempts to hit notes clearly out of his range. A good producer would not let this happen.

If one can manage to avoid focusing on the vocals, quality power metal abounds. Production is solid and modern-sounding. The rhythm section of Rikki Mannhard (bass) and Bubu Brunner (drums, and I hope these are stage names) pulverizes throughout and the twin guitar harmonies of Borner and Michael Hellstrom almost force you to punch the air with enthusiasm. The mix is balanced but aggressive, guitar-driven as one would expect but not at the expense of the rhythm section.

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Lonewolf cite Running Wild as one of their primary influences, and that is clear throughout, although Lonewolf’s music is faster, more exuberant, and more power-ish than their idols: there are definite Grave Digger influences present as well. Musically these guys are precise and hard-hitting. Hellstrom’s solos lean more towards the melodic, Iron Maiden-esque variety rather than pure shred, and that fits well with the music. These guys are pros.

For the most part, Lonewolf stick to formula here, with the galloping anthems, twin guitar harmonies, and big riffs. They don’t like to throw curve balls at us at all on The Heathen Dawn – “Keeper of the Underworld” starts in muted fashion before the standard gallop takes over, and that’s as far as the band wants to deviate from the tried and true galloping, marching, punching anthems about days of yore. I say galloping a lot because that’s what the music makes me want to do. The Heathen Dawn has a great album cover, with the band mascot (a lone wolf-man creature) captaining a Viking boat of skeleton warriors across the sea (and the obligatory cool logo, where the L and F are mirror images). But the music doesn’t make me want to sail, it makes me want to charge into battle riding a fine destrier, gargling “Rise To Victory” at the top of my lungs.

Lonewolf bring the heat through thirteen hard-hitting, pummeling tracks. The band is extremely prolific: The Heathen Dawn is their fourth album in the past five years. Their formula is tried and true, and they stick to it here. Because of this it can be hard to pick any standout tracks – aside from “When The Angels Fall,” the songs are all of equally solid quality. If one can get past the gargling vocals, this is a fun album to spin.



Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Massacre Records
Websites: wolfdivision.com | facebook.com/lonewolfdivision
Releases Worldwide: July 8th, 2016

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  • beurbs

    I wonder what it’s like to be in a band this good, but with one member taking a runny dump over the top of everything. Do the other members operate at a general low-level rage all the time? Do they use that as fuel for their shredding?

  • Kmill

    nice review, young man!

  • Lars Barres

    That dude definitely wants to be Chris Boltendahl… shoulda named the band Grave Wild.

  • Thatguy

    Hi, Huck. I still thing SD is oppressing you by making/letting you review this.

    I hate to say it, but the singer has the the worst voice I have heard for a long, long time. Nasty timbre, limited range, and he is out of tune half the time. And the music – well played but pointless.

    • Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system!

      • AlphaBetaFoxface

        When did you become “Steel Management” if you don’t mind me asking? The violence inherent in the system seems to be manifesting exponentially with the arrival of the new guy.

        Is there another Steel? Is Steel Management collective, or is it just you delegating the delegation of prog/power metal to El Cuervo, who then just throws it at Huck?

        I have many questions that I fear might never reach conclusions.

        • The monumental task of onboarding, managing, mentoring and monitoring newbie writers falls to me, thus the management remark.

          • Hulksteraus

            Waterboarding?

          • As needed and at all office parties.

        • Monsterth Goatom

          Remember: “Vengeance is Steel”.

      • Martin Knap

        the system is violent because the hegemonic discourse is based in the violence of representation.

      • [not a Dr]

        Bloody Peasant!

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      The guy sounds like Blaze Bailey with a hoarse throat…

      • Thatguy

        Yep.

        But worse.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    The guy with the beard must have lost his bullet belt on the way to the photo shoot.. They should have a least given him a bear skin, a sword or something. I’m just not convinced they’re metal enough now

    • Martin Knap

      Or he’s like: guys I have kids, I don’t want them to see me dress like some teenager from the 80s :-)

      • [not a Dr]

        Look at his contented smile: he made it to the photo session, but ran out of ammo in the process.

    • Mikko Ojanen

      Nonsense, a good beard is worth at least two bullet belts.

    • Shouldn’t there be a minimum Metal requirement for earning the right to bear bullet belts in the first place?

  • Tom Hardy

    That opening riff sounds so goddamn familiar …

    • Lars Barres

      Metal Militia?

      • Hulksteraus

        I think you may be right…

  • jetblindracos

    They have another album by the title The Cult of Steel.What do you make of that.

  • Stefunal

    The vocalist might be one of the most annoying vocalists I’ve ever heard.

  • Anarchist

    The singer is so mediocre…

    The music itself sounds great, and I could see myself looping the album for sure if I didn’t have to hear Blaze Bailey with a throat infection hack and cough his way through the lyrics falling out of tune more often than not.