Wolf - Feeding The Machine review


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Band: Wolf
Album: Feeding The Machine
Release date: March 2020

01. Shoot To Kill
02. Guillotine
03. Dead Man's Hand
04. Midnight Hour
05. Mass Confusion
06. The Cold Emptiness
07. Feeding The Machine
08. Devil In The Flesh
09. Spoon Bender
10. The Raven
11. Black Widow
12. A Thief Inside
13. Atlantis [bonus]

The Wolf is at the door again.

Six years after the band treaded water with their prior release Devil Seed, Swedish mob Wolf look to make up lost ground and reclaim their place among the leading lights in the traditional heavy metal movement. Having a host of new bands emerge to jostle with them for pole position in the interim, Feeding The Machine sees the group release a solid album that will help restore them as contenders to the top of the field, though it falls short of handing that title to them.

Feeding The Machine is more of the same, namely, straight-up heavy metal in a style before it deviated into now endless sprawling subgenres. While this is often used as a term of derision for a band, it is merely Wolf playing to their strengths and to audience expectations; aiming to top your prior output can be as engrossing and fun as switching up your style. Sure, it's not reinventing the wheel, but sometimes drawing on the walls is more fun than going back to the chalkboard to create something new. With that said, the band do take a moment to scribble a few notes on the chalk board and incorporate a few electronic sounds here and there that fill out a few pot holes, but little more than that, dipping their toes in the water at most.

Wolf stick to what they do best, straight-up metal that features the guitars pushed to the fore next to the vocals ala Judas Priest, with the bass and drum sitting towards the back to fill out the sound and give the other members of the band the space to make the most of the spotlight. Tracks like "Guillotine", "Midnight Hour" and "Devil In The Flesh" are the first amongst equals in this regards, not miles ahead of the rest of the album but the more memorable of the bunch.

This is the story for much of the record, songs that are good but not much beyond that, a fun inoffensive listen once in a while but one I doubt people will be reaching for first and foremost, instead being relegated to something you work your way back to. While Wolf do nothing bad, they don't particularly do anything great either; a straight road is good to drive on, but one with bends and turns will be more memorable. Feeding The Machine sounds like a diet of porridge day in and day out; sure, there is nothing inherently wrong with it, but after a while it becomes staid and boring. You'll soon be wanting more variety when feeding your machine.

The flipside to this is that it at least maintains a level of consistency that ensures the band doesn't dip in quality and no song stands out as being bad, meaning that while it doesn't excel itself, it at the very least doesn't drop the ball either. With the band smoothing out their sound, you end up with a well-rounded album but one that doesn't particularly stand out as a result, with nothing to snag your attention.

Stålvind is again one of the highlights of any Wolf record, with a voice that is strong and combines an everyman charm with the talent and skill it belies. The aforementioned focus on the guitar and vocals is for a reason, given the man behind the microphone. "The Raven" is effectively built around his voice, while tracks like "Dead Man's Hand" are elevated by his performance. The second part of Wolf's appeal, the guitars, are on full display for much of the album, with tracks "The Cold Emptiness" and the somewhat groovy "Black Widow" reliant on the guitars' strong performance for their quality.

Feeding The Machine can be summed up as another Wolf record, another good album that is a fun listen but nothing earth-shattering. A good listen if you find yourself short on ideas and one to put on in the background of parties, but not something I'd put on wanting to focus heavily on what is playing.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 7
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Production: 7


Written on 14.10.2020 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.

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