Lonewolf - Army of the Damned (Napalm Records)

Solid, enjoyable stuff from the French power metal veterans...
Release Date: 
30 Mar 2012 (All day)

Extant for almost twenty years now, French outfit Lonewolf must surely be one of power metal’s best kept secrets. By rights they should be as big as some of their Teutonic cousins, such is the consummate bombast of their furious metallic assault, and its a complete mystery to me that they aren't yet keeping that exalted company.

Army of the Damned is absolutely choc full of storming, blustering heavy metal that is absolutely riveting to listen to. Being French gives the band a certain something that sets them apart from the rest of the power metal pack, though everything you’d require from a standard issue Euro power metal album is to be found here. The band skillfully merge the best parts of bands like Blind Guardian, Running Wild (the most obvious influence here) and Sabaton to create a forceful, melodic thunder on songs like the excellent Celtic Heart, the anthemic Crawling to Hell or The One You Never See, Vocalist Jens Borner has the quintessential gruff Eurovoice, his lack of operatic flourish giving the material a much needed grit and authenticity that many bands sacrifice in the search for operatic nirvana. He’s a heavy metal vocalist, not a third rate Pavarotti, and that’s a good thing.

Borner and his axe cohort Alex Hilbert also put in a rather splendid shift on their instruments; the harmony interplay between these two is splendid throughout, with some particularly effective work being heard on Cold, where some excellent Maidenesque lead work adorns the track, or the Helloweenish drive of Tally Ho, a song that will have you reaching for that battered old cardboard guitar as soon as its opening bars seep into your ears. .

Of course, all this praise is relative. If you don’t like power metal there’s nothing here that will change your mind (though there’s an awful lot on show that’ll doubtless reinforce all your already-held thoughts on the genre), but if you enjoy a bit of a neck-bothering gallop through the adamantine halls of fantasy every now and then then you’ll do worse than pick this up. Hugely entertaining, is not entirely essential stuff.