Wolfpakk – “Wolves Reign” (AFM Records)
The brainchild of Mark Sweeney (ex-Crystal Ball) and Michael Voss (Mad Max, Michael Schenker), Wolfpakk is their melodic metal all star project – and ambitious it is to say the least – featuring no less than 26 all star guests! Quite how the 2 vocalists manage to pull this cast is beyond me, but on this 4th album there’s Biff Byford (Saxon), George Lynch (Dokken), Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy Osbourne), Ronny Atkins (Pretty Maids), Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy Osbourne), Tony Harnell (TNT), Chris Holmes (W.A.S.P.), Oliver Hartmann (Avantasia), Timo Somers (Delain), Brad Gillis (Night Ranger), Pasi Rantanen (Thunderstone), Danny Vaughn (Tyketto), Michael Vescera (Yngwie Malmsteen) – to name but a few on the 11 excellent tracks here. Using their collective experience, the duo’s success in Wolfpakk has been a combination of song writing as well as arrangements, naturally fine tuned with each guest in mind and then eliciting the very best performance from these top names – and it works a treat. From the rich, melodic guitar driven opener of ‘Falling’ with its flowing neo classical breaks mixed with crunching riffs, the high vocals and harmonies send the feelgood vibe soaring into the heavens – and that’s before the heart shattering neo classical solo hits home! With the temperature soaring on ‘Run All Night’, Michael Vescera (ex-Yngwie Malmsteen) does a fine job adding his scream to his soul on this excellent combination of genteel melody contrasted by a hammering rhythm including some smashing double bass drum work – unreal and even more so when the amazing guitar solos – oh yeah, there’s more than one – start trading and turn you into a quivering mass of rock jelly ha ha. Biff Byford brings the heaviness of ‘Blood Brothers’ with its native American chorus chanting and piston driving drums to a new high with his excellent soulful vocals giving a real epic touch iced off superbly with classy guitar melodies placed just in the right place to get the heart pounding once more. The energy level and top notch performances on “Wolves Reign” just doesn’t let up, even until the closer of ‘I’m Onto You’ which is like a melodic Accept rocker vocally, but has all the raw, crunching riffs to sway the hips and shake the head. Thoroughly enjoyable, Sweeney and Voss have done another commendable job to realize what many would consider to be only dreamable!