One of the more recent developments, or perhaps stylistic re-surfacings, in metal is for extremity to be combined with a much more rocking vibe. This, of course, has been done throughout the music's history, with bands like Venom and Motorhead doing it before it was invented, and a few bands have been carrying the torch ever since. Of late, the style seems to have been a lot more active, albeit very spread out, with punk, rock n' roll and extreme metal being fused in various incarnations. The speedy, thrashy and very much rock-and-roll-attitude band Speedwolf are such an incarnation.
Speedwolf play what is essentially thrash, but with a lot of speed metal influence and some serious catchy, rock n' roll attitude and hooks along the way. A lot of the songs have a lot of bounce and manic energy, combined with melodic, solos in places, and the general vibe of a band who are playing the same songs live as in the studio, with uncompromisingly organic playing and indeed production. The speed and energy of Speedwolf's sound makes it almost impossible to be unmoved by the songs, and all of them, for want of a better description, give you the urge to go fast, in whatever activity the music coincides with. The songs are wickedly catchy, with choruses such as that of the self-titled song, "Speedwolf" possessing a brief, albeit monstrously memorable quality. In most of the songs this is bolstered considerably by melodies which are nothing short of excellent, and fit into the one-guitar context of the band very nicely - despite, as far as my ears tell me, having no rhythm guitar below them (except in a solo or two), they still sound as powerful as they are catchy and technical.
The album really whizzes past at breakneck speed, and if one was to be headbanging to this live, you'd certainly be knackared by the end of the set. It was tricky at first to listen to the whole album and take it in without the short, fast songs blending into each other a bit, especially considering that it's fourteen tracks in length. After a few listens, fortunately, all was well, and I was picking up on the album much better, which is certainly something I'd have liked to know before listening; if you're not careful, it thunders past in a blur, like so many leather clad bikers. It'd certainly be a difficult album to spin casually when you've not remembered the songs properly, and as a result it's an album which grows on you. From the first listen, I enjoyed the sound, but after a few more, I began to enjoy the songs themselves, which is by far the best way to enjoy music, in my opinion. It takes one thing to enjoy how a band "sounds", but true pleasure comes from knowing the songs, and knowing where the best bits are.
The artwork isn't always something you can judge an album on, but in this case, it is. Speedwolf is rather epitomised by their artwork on this album - epic, fast and organic - full to the absolute brim with rock and roll attitude and uncompromising heavy-metal thunder.
I'm going to give this 8/10.
Speedwolf on Myspace
Speedwolf on Facebook
Speedwolf on Metal Archives