By Chris Dick
'Real metal for true bastards' is a slogan that should be emblazoned in fiery neon on billboards, scrawled triumphantly across book covers, and sewn proudly into back patches. It has a rebel edge to it. A double middle finger salute to those not part of the real metal club. Well, folks, this is Wolf's motto. And since 1995, they've lived and died by it. 'When we grew up in the '80s, we discovered classic bands like Saxon, Accept, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Mercyful Fate,' says vocalist/guitarist Niklas 'Viper' Stålvind. 'That's heavy metal to me. We just want to play heavy metal and call it heavy metal. Meat and potatoes.'
Now, hold on there, Stålvind. 'Meat and potatoes'? If only. Formed in the quaint town of Örebro out of the sinew and bone of defunct death, black, and power metal bands, Wolf's music is hardly an average dinner. Debut album, Wolf, crashed a crowded scene in 1999. When most bands were putting on a flower show, Stålvind and his band of rough riders were breaking bottles, getting hammered, and making genuine hard-hitting, ball-busting heavy metal, the likes of which have been merely feigned by their peers. Fast forward five more full-lengths—the last of which was 2011's celebrated Legions of Bastards—and by no means are the Swedes slowing down, getting wimpy, or forsaking the true metal DNA of their forefathers.
Cases in point: Wolf have their own absinthe. That's right. While other bands make garden variety wine and put their logo on it, Wolf have the nuts to craft 'Wolf Absinthe'. According to Stålvind, it's skull-splitting stuff, too. They also have 'Wolf's Blood Hot Sauce', an extremely hot condiment magically brewed to make grown men cry.
But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. Wolf aren't a food and beverage company. They're a heavy metal band and, as such, Wolf have a new album out. Called Devil Seed. With a lineup that's been in place since 2011, Devil Seed is unlike any Wolf album before it. True, it has the Swedes' signature on it, but it's so much more. It's heavy metal to 11. It's heavy metal with extra leather and extra spikes. It's heavy metal drowned in awesome. Moored by rollicking lead single 'Shark Attack' and buttressed by the bewitchingly catchy 'Surgeons of Lobotomy', the anthemic 'I Am Pain', the old-school gallop of 'The Dark Passenger' and the metal-glove-to-mouth punch of 'Frozen', Devil Seed is metal for the future that's intrinsically informed by the past.
'As always, we put all of our heart and soul into the writing and recording of the music,' says Stålvind like a warrior knowing no defeat. 'We give everything we got and this time I personally think we have a really strong record. I am so pleased with how the songs turned out and the production is nothing but world class to my ears. This is an album with songs from our metal hearts that won't have an expiration date. It's not the flavor of the day. This record will kick ass if you put it on tomorrow or after 10 years. It's really good songs, nothing more nothing less.'
Recorded by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Katatonia) at Fascination Street Studios, Devil Seed sounds like nothing before it. In Bogren, Wolf were able to tap a producer with ultra-high standards and one who understood Wolf's diehard, throwback origins. Quite frankly, after hearing Devil Seed it's fair to say Bogren is the new Martin Birch. '[It was] the nicest studio we have recorded in so far, and Jens and his team are fantastic to work with. And I have worked with some great producers (Fredrik Nordström, Roy Z, Peter Tägtgren), so I know what I'm talking about.'
As for where Devil Seed plants Wolf in 2014, well, the fearsome four are only interested in conversion. To make the many weak a legion strong with the power of metal. To do this, Stålvind and Wolf will tour the globe. Whether to hundreds or thousands on motorcycle or nightliner, Wolf aims to put Devil Seed on the road. 'We just want to plant our Devil Seed in the world and watch it grow into a beast. Who knows what will happen. We just want to reach as many people and play as much live as we possibly can.'
Words of advice: empty your liquor cabinets, barricade your doors, and lock up your daughters. Devil Seed is coming!
Wolf are: Niklas 'Viper' Stålvind (vocals/guitars), Anders 'Tornado' Modd (bass), Richard 'Raptor' Holmgren (drums/vocals), and Simon 'Demon' Johansson (guitars).