Ravenous (Century Media)
By Mike Delano
Proof positive that the power of a good riff trumps all else, Wolf has a bottomless pool of them in which they’re more than happy to hold your head under and drown you. It’s guitars über alles on this, their first since 2006’s A Black Flame, and as if there wasn’t enough six string overload here, they go ahead and recruit Hank Sherman (of Mercyful Fate) and Roy Z (who doubles as producer) to pile some solos onto the fire. Usually, when a band is tagged with the NWOBHM label, they veer closer to either the Judas Priest or Iron Maiden side, but as Ravenous proves, you can have both and then some. The Maiden influence is most apparent throughout, with the writing and vocals owing the largest debt, but the dense, aggressive sound is more along the lines of Mercyful Fate (see “Curse You Salem”), while Priest gets the occasional nod with a stomper like “Whiskey Psycho Hellions” or a histrionic lament like “Blood Angel.” In the hands of a lesser band, many of the tracks would be instant filler, but the riffs are just too damn good on “Mr. Twisted” and “Voodoo” to skip over, and it’s hard to believe that the insanely catchy and sleazy “Love at First Bite” isn’t the centerpiece of the album but just another weapon in Wolf’s vast, deadly arsenal.