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Well, here's something that I'm sure many a rock and metal fan thought would never happen - a brand new Wolfsbane studio album with the band's original lineup. Since reforming four years ago for a one-off festival appearance in their hometown, the Tamworth rockers have toured as main support for The Wildhearts in 2007, The Quireboys in 2009, and Saxon earlier this year as well as a 2011 headline tour. The reformation was only announced as permanent in 2010 and, with it, the promise of a new album. So here it is, 'Wolfsbane Save the World' and with their return, they're "bolder" by their own admission (that's "older/balder"!). A somewhat ridiculous title, it's stated on the press sheet that they believe - "The world needs saving!! Clearly!! And with our usual modest self effacing attitude we have returned phoenix like to do it!!" So am I reading that right? The title is a call for Wolfsbane to save the world? Rhetorically, if they succeed, will the next album, should one be recorded, be named "Wolfsbane Saves/Saved the World"? It's all very tongue-in-cheek, I know, but it's still a tad cheesy, just like the album cover which depicts the Earth as a glitter ball. Fortunately, the songs are in no way shoddy and Wolfsbane prove they can still rock with the best of 'em all these years on. Blaze Bayley is in fine voice and, dare I say, delivers the most powerful and efficacious vocals I've heard from him in years. Back in his comfort zone maybe? Perhaps the man just thrives in the context of Wolfsbane, as he certainly sounds at ease performing with the musicians with whom he started his career. In fact, the whole band are on fire from opener 'Blue Sky' to album closer 'Did It For The Money'; it's almost as if time has stood still and the seventeen years (yep, count 'em, a whole seventeen) since their last eponymously titled studio album in 1994 has left their rock/metal aesthetic untainted by time. Guitarist Jase Edwards also impresses with some frenetically dynamic rhythm playing and skilfully performed lead/solo work. He also recorded, engineered, and produced the album at his Majestic Splendour studio and has given a very 'live' feel to the production and general execution of the material. I gather that's the kind of sound the band were after as they retained some of the vocals and guitar solos from the demos on the final recordings to capture a spontaneity to the songs. Overall, 'Wolfsbane Save the World' is an unpretentious and sincere slab of melodically infused sonic fun that sees one of Britain's onetime best loved rock/metal bands return to do what they do best. Well worth checking out.
Review by Mark Holmes
9th Jan 2012
1) Blue Sky
2) Teacher
3) Buy My Pain
4) Starlight
5) Smoke and the Red Light
6) Illusion of Love
7) Live Before I Die
8) Who Are You Now
9) Everybody's Looking for Something Baby
10) Child of the Sun
11) Did It For The Money
"...Wolfsbane prove they can still rock with the best of 'em all these years on."