Leatherwolf – “Unchained Live” (NIL8 Records)
The return of the Triple Axe Attack! Formed back in the 80s, this Huntington Beach crew were fast rising stars towards the end of the decade but sadly their timing coincided with the advent of grunge resulting in a ten year hiatus. Thereafter various line ups played sporadically until 2007 when original members Carey Howe and Michael Olivieri returned and (re)issued “New World Asylum”. With the resurgence of HM in the true metal movement, interest in the band likewise grew with increased touring and a return to song writing. “Unchained Live” is the first album to feature the lead guitar duo of Rob Math and Greg Erba who are joined by original members, vocalist/guitarist Michael Olivieri and drummer Dean Roberts, and long-time bassist Patrick Guyton. Recorded live, the album contains several of the band’s biggest classics culled from their highly acclaimed first three albums, including the MTV video singles “The Calling” and“Hideaway”, along with newer material like “Dr. Wicked (Rx O.D.)”. Musically it’s definitely still 80s West Coast HM with Olivieri’s high end vocals being typical of the scene back then, almost a mix of Bruce Dickinson, Udo Dirkschneider’s purring tones and Geoff Tate highs! However, despite at the time looking like another Sunset Strip hairspray band, Leatherwolf were true to their name in being a damn sight heavier especially with a strong Maiden influence driving all aspects of their guitar work. Interestingly they also featured strong melodies and harmonies that could have almost been AOR in their style giving the band a unique sound overall! These days the band may look more like street toughs (still wearing leather naturally!) despite having their hair, but that unmistakeable sound is still there and brought back to life brilliantly on this superb live album!