Lonewolf – The Fourth and Final Horseman (Napalm Records)Tuesday, 25th June 2013
Parading a style of heavy metal with old-school power tendencies more well-known from German or Greek acts than France, Lonewolf nonetheless has established a decent stockpile of albums since 2002, with The Fourth and Final Horseman their sixth studio platter. The quartet through the years have performed with many notable contemporaries and mentors, opening for Grave Digger, Wizard, Sacred Steel, and Paragon for example. So it shouldn’t be shocking that their sound contains a lot of similarities to these bands.
The 10 songs contain lots of dual-harmonic guitar elements with marching tempos of a mid-tempo/epic variety, as well as the requisite back and forth, call-and-response lead to mead hall chanting vocals and lyrical content with warrior, dragon, and alliance themes. “Throne of Skulls” pushes Antoine Bussiere with his speedy feet and hands to keep up with the Blind Guardian-like riff chops of guitarists Alex Hilbert and Jens Borner. As an album opener, the title track is a bit of a curve ball with its slower, standard traditional tempo, but Lonewolf excel at injecting cultural chords and mini-lead breaks that should gain audience favor a la Running Wild, as “Hellride” and “Dragonriders” will provoke many air guitar moments.
The biggest downfall to the quartet moving up the ranks in terms of popularity lies solely in the gravelly range of Jens Borner. He doesn’t project strength in any sense of traditional metal – he has a similar quality as Chris Boltendahl of Grave Digger, which can be bullfrog-like and a struggle to stomach.
Still I know plenty that live for this fire and brimstone style, and overall Lonewolf keep things close to the vest without overstepping conventional power/traditional lines. This, to my ears is a step down from last year’s Army of the Damned – so beware.