Thursday, April 11, 2013

Now Hear This: Wolf - Edge of the World


     The band that would eventually become Wolf formed as Leviathan in 1977 and were active on the UK rock scene for several years before changing their name to Black Axe in 1980 and releasing a spectacular single, "Highway Rider" b/w "Red Lights." The b-side is, in my opinion, one of the very best songs to come out of the NWOBHM movement:

      Wolf's singer Chris English, guitarists Simon Parkes and Bill Kleir, bassist Stewart Richardson, and drummer Mike Thorburn also saw their Priest-inspired song "Edge of the World" included on the Friday Rock Show compilation album alongside Metallica faves Diamond Head and Sweet Savage. 

     The band recorded radio sessions for the BBC and Capital Radio, the former yielded the recording of "Edge of the World" above, the latter included an amazing unreleased track called "Lazerblind." Check it out:

     Thanks to the much deserved local success of the "Highway Rider" single and subsequent radio exposure Black Axe signed with Chrysalis Records and entered the studio to record their debut album. At some point the label convinced them to make the unfortunate name change to Wolf. It was a big mistake since the album was shelved and the band were dropped. The finished record would not see the light of day until three years later when the Belgium-based metal label Mausoleum Records was finally able to release it.  Edge of the World is an excellent record and probably the strongest album to be released by a low profile NWOBHM group. The first two songs on the record are the aforementioned title track and the galloping "Highway Rider," which you might remember was the a-side of the band's debut single back when they were called Black Axe.

     Next comes the excellent "Heaven Will Rock N' Roll," a very catchy metal tune, great for 1984, when it was released, even better for 1981, when it was recorded.

     Fourth song "Shock Treatment" is an interesting metal track, the verse is a tad awkward but the chorus is nice. The song suffers from substandard arrangement/production but there's a really good song buried in there.

     Side one ends with a brooding, echo-laden track called "A Soul For The Devil." Let's flip the record over and get to the only single to be released from the album, "Head Contact (Rock'n'Roll)." It's a stomping rock track, not the best song on the album, but decent enough:

     My favorite song on the record (after "Red Lights") is up next, it's called "Rest In Peace" and would have made a better single. Hear it here:

     Next up is a driving metal tune called "Too Close For Comfort." Great song.

     The last two songs are the amazing "Red Lights," the b-side of the Black Axe "Highway Rider" single, and finally "Medicine Man." So we get the best song followed by the worst song. A funky intro dissolving into a prominent synth track--ugh. So"Medicine Man" and "A Soul For The Devil" are the expendable tracks but every other song on the album is a keeper, which makes this a great eighties metal record. The vinyl goes for about 100 bucks on ebay, so I am not alone in saying this. Hope you enjoyed it.


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