Project: Roenwolfe - Project: Roenwolfe review
|Release date:||June 2023|
02. Honor The Line
04. Pre-Existential Crisis
05. Theater Of Sorrow
06. Saturnus Augmentum
07. Pearls Before Swine [feat. Lux Edwards]
08. Project: Roenwolfe
It isn’t too often that you see proper US power metal these days; you know, the real asphalt-ripping stuff that’s as muscular as East Coast thrash and as dark as death. Well, dark as Control Denied, anyway.
Project: Roenwolfe was one of my more fortuitous discoveries back in the ’21 Metal Storm Awards; the power metal category that year had the honor of being crushed into a fine paste by Helloween’s Magnificent Sexy Pumpkin Eclipse Destroyers Mobile Suit Helloween album, and for me the easy victor was and remains Beast In Black’s Dark Connection, but Edge Of Saturn came out swinging and stood its ground against a raft of higher-profile albums. While of course the writing, performances, and production are all creditable, Project: Roenwolfe benefits also from the intrigue of its championing of a now-dwindling scene; with Iced Earth on ice, Nevermore no more, and Manowar more of a joke than Nanowar, it’s getting increasingly difficult to find quality power metal that shares Alicia Cordisco’s highly evident appreciation for Artillery’s By Inheritance. After a full-throttle thrash adventure earlier this year in the form of Transgressive, also featuring this band’s new bassist, Leona Hayward, Cordisco re-debuts Project: Roenwolfe with a self-titled album that takes an even harsher angle on power-thrash than before (and wicked bass solos).
The thrash element is noticeably stronger on this album than on Edge Of Saturn, perhaps a result of that new Transgressive crossover element sharing 50% of the band; the Artillery worship is indeed evident in a few Middle Eastern scale borrowings, the general jam-package of riffing, and some of the more gravelly vocal passages (“Honor The Line” is a particularly good example). Where Edge Of Saturn obviously shared DNA with the new-age Blind Guardian stylings of Cordisco’s erstwhile bandmates in Judicator, Project: Roenwolfe throws itself into a more brutal, less proggy, less friendly direction to accommodate all of that thrash caveman energy. Iced Earth is one of the closest points of comparison – and Burnt Offerings or Iced Earth to be specific – so we’re pulling from the Demon rather than the Wizard this time around. The rib-rattling bass lines thundering throughout are also reminiscent of Anthrax or Overkill; the low end on this album is phenomenal, in fact. The grooves are limber and technically articulate, decked out with melodies as hooky as the guitar riffs, but when the song calls for a straight mean-machine chug, the slack smack of the strings is all classic thrash face-punching. That is probably the most noticeable separation between this album and prior Project: Roenwolfe releases – and although I found things to enjoy about that Transgressive album, this one is a much more satisfying realization of that aggression and musicianship, combined with better production and a sound I find more listenable.
That’s all well and good for the thrash side. The power part comes from the charisma of vocalist Patrick Parris, whose performance solidly balances the constant pull of rough edges with more complex textures. His delivery is unexpectedly smooth, a moderation of the pure heaviness to keep the album anchored in melody; his vocals, always layered, recall just a bit of Ripper Owens or Bruce Dickinson, generally purveying stout narrations that accentuate the speedy evil approach of the songwriting, but occasionally shooting into some screechy wails that prevent the band from straying too far from the cheesy posturing inherent to its genre.
If there’s a downside to this album, it’s that the songs are not as memorable as Edge Of Saturn; this is distinctly a sound-first-hooks-second release, and although that’s enough to carry it through multiple listens and hopefully to another spot in the MSAs, it is something of a disappointment given how strongly the melodies came through on its predecessor. I’d like to see album #4 combine the strengths of both of these albums for something greater. But the addition of so much extra bass is nothing but an improvement for Project: Roenwolfe, and the harsher sound of this album is tempered with an increased sense of fun thanks to the obvious adulation – yet not outright emulation – of certain Danish thrashers. If this is what we can expect from this outfit going forward then the use of the repetitive title may be well-deserved.
||Written on 02.07.2023 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.|
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