FireWölfe – Conquer All Fear Review

It’s been a sparse year for traditional metal for old Holdeneye. I usually cover at least a few albums of the classic variety each year, but as I look back over the travesty that is my “Albums Reviewed” spreadsheet, I see only one 2021 album with the lone “heavy metal” tag. A couple of factors play into this shortage, namely supply chain issues (read: Steel Druhm takes most of the classic metal albums for himself because he’s old) and my own lack of productivity (I’ll end the year about a dozen reviews short of my usual quota. I’ll probably do better next year, Steel!). Well, the holiday season is the perfect time to set all wrongs right, so I swiftly grabbed this, the third record from FireWölfe. After a break of several years, the Vancouver, Washington band received an infusion of fresh blood in 2020 by way of the addition of three new members. Let’s see if these would-be heroes from my home state can live up to this album’s title.

FireWölfe plays heavy metal that would just about perfectly live up to the dictionary definition of the genre. Conquer All Fear is made up of one anthem after another, with each and every one composed to pay tribute to metal gods like Iron Maiden, Manowar, and Accept. The riffs crunch, the leads rip, and the vocals of new singer Freddy Krumins exude power and might. Krumins just may be the best-kept secret in the PNW metal scene, because his rich, gravelly voice makes me Jørny, baby.1 Album opener and embedded single “Vicious as the Viper” demonstrates how well his vocals fit the music as the band sets the stage for their full campaign with an onslaught of harmonized guitars and driving rhythms.

The strength of FireWölfe lies in their ability to play relatively simple songs so excellently that they become something greater than the sum of their parts. In fact, the slower songs capture the magic most fully here. Sure, tracks like the aforementioned “Vicious as the Viper,” the speed metal drag race “Pedal to Metal,” and the hard-charging “Black and Gold” are fun romps through faster territory, but to these ears, they can’t hold a…candle…to numbers like the title track and “Candle in the Dark.” The latter is essentially a heartfelt ballad, undergirded by excellent guitar work and the Blaze Bayley-esque vocals of Krumins, and the former is simply one of the most awesome trad-metal songs I’ve heard in a while. “Conquer All Fear” shows Krumins at his strongest, while guitarists Nick Layton and Michael David lay down sinister riffs, emotive leads, and molten licks.

Unfortunately, for every two killer tracks here, there’s one I’d consider filler—not bad, by any means, but just not up to the snuff of the others. The album’s centerpiece is “The Evil Eye Trilogy,” but only “Keep the Hounds at Bay (Pt. 3)” really sticks with me. This inconsistency in quality holds Conquer All Fear back from greatness, but FireWölfe has all the ingredients to hit that mark in the future. When they’re on, they’re on, as tracks like “Conquer All Fear,” “Swallow My Pride,” “Candle in the Dark,” and “Method to the Madness” clearly demonstrate. And the production values only serve to make the band’s sound even stronger. Every instrument—including Krumins’ god-like larynx—sounds excellent, and the whole package resonates with clear vibrancy.

While Conquer All Fears may not be an earth-shattering entry into the annals of heavy metal greatness, it’s certainly worth a listen for fans of the truest metal. FireWölfe is another great local-ish band that I’ve discovered thanks to this site, and I’m excited to see what these guys put out next.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Limb Music
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: November 19th, 2021

Show 1 footnote

  1. There goes the holiday bonus. – Steel
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