Wolf, live in London

Support: Primitai

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This past weekend the Swedish heavy metal heroes Wolf came crashing into Camden Town. It might not have been the busiest gig in the world, but that didn’t stop the pure fuckin’ metallers kick maximum arse. This is what we learned…

It’s Almost A Power Metal Reinvention

Well, not quite. But Wolf have the traditions of the ‘80s glory days for the genre, but have the insight, traction and ferocity to make it all work in the modern context. You can hear how clever they are musically on a song like Evil Star. Using the famed musical motif from Psycho as the intro, they then play around this theme in the song itself.

The Swedes Have Their Own Version Of The Power Ballad

When they whisk through My Demon, it’s not at all sedate, but has a crunch that makes it a lot more edible than the usual unpalatable fare which is disgorged by bands of this nature when delivering the obligatory slow track. This might be smooth, but bites down hard as well.

The Guitar Interlock Is Formidable

The combination of Niklas Stålvind and Simon Johansson is stunning. You can hear their dual attack on Skeleton Woman and Voodoo, while the way they complement each other on Night Stalker owes a lot to early Maiden. It brings to mind the latter’s Purgatory. But is no imitation.

Bassist Anders G. Modd Is Out There…

Literally, at one point. He wanders around the crowd for a couple of minutes, even spots Tank guitarist Cliff Evans and stops to pose for a photo with him. Now, that’s style!

And The Band Have All Been Suffering From The Dreaded Lurgy

Stålvind makes a big play of telling everyone how sick the four of them have been on tour. And the frontman does seem to be suffering from a heavy cold. But that doesn’t stop him stripping to the waist and going for every soaring vocal nuance. He also praises drummer Richard A. Holmgren for putting off the removal of a kidney stone in order to do these dates. Now, that’s real metal dedication. As if to prove his point, Holmgren then leads the band into Full Moon Possession.

There’s A Moment Of Pathos, Though

Stålvind dedicates Speed On to a friend who has just died from cancer, and there’s an extra frisson to this song, which ends the main set. It’s a real high spot.

There’s The Odd Bout Of Unintentional Hilarity

When Stålvind takes a nose and throat clearing break, Johnasson tries to take over the banter, but he appears to get very confused: “The next song is a new one… or maybe it’s an old one… by someone…” Huh?! And then Stålvind shows the potential for a future political career when he declares: “We will try to come back in the autumn. I promise”. Which means… absolutely nothing.

But Wolf Are True Metal. Right?

Oh yes. There may not have been many people in the venue, but the rapport between band and fans is clear. This is real metal. No wimps. No poseurs. And the encore coupling of Genocide and Killing Floor is a corrosively coruscating concerto.

Oh, And Let’s Not Forget Support Band Primitai

They’re proof that Britain has quality in depth. Their NWOBHM inspired style is clear-sighted and pliable, and far from being a nostalgia trip. Songs like The Cannibal and Scream When You See Us are anthemic winners. Primitai are really going places.

Wolf play Bloodstock festival this August. Get your tickets here.

Malcolm Dome

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica, published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009. He died in 2021