Florida’s Dungeon Wolf are a pretty cool band. Yes I know you usually aren’t supposed to give the game away right at the start of the review, but fuck it. It’s my review, and I’m pretty enthusiastic about this bunch of dudes. The first thing that is going to grab you about this album is the cover, you are either going to come to the instant conclusion that these guys are either really into Old School Traditional Heavy Metal, or that they may well be a giant bunch of arseclowns. It’s cheesy, it’s hardly a fucking work of one of the masters, but to me it screams right in my face that Dungeon Wolf are all about fun. You may also note the amount of actual metal in the picture too, such as the Sword (yep, metal), the chain mail headgear(also metal), and the numerous sharp pointy things the crowd in the background are all brandishing, you guessed it, all made of really hard Old School Metal.
Hit that play button, and hit it now, because what awaits you is the perfect example of why this little black duck got into Metal in the first place. Classic riffs, mind bending guitar artistry, drums that are perfectly appropriate for the pace of the material, a rumbling bass line, and that voice, oh that voice. Deryck Heignum was surely born from the collected left over genetic material of any classic Metal band you care to mention. Maiden, Priest, Dio, a touch of Malmsteen, a tad bit of King Diamond, Alice fucking Cooper! I could go on all day. Shit some moments he is almost channeling the sadly missed Warrel Dane, I kid you not one bit. Add to that his utter domination of the axe that he wields in his mighty hands, and you already have one dead set fucking legend.
The other two members of this display of all that is best in Metal are Stan Martell on Bass, a man that surely also channels all the greats of the old days, and percussion expert extraordinaire, Austin Lane, who is also so damned well versed in the art of old school drumming that I am surprised he hasn’t exploded or died in a bizarre gardening accident. That’s what happens to the greats isn’t it? I am completely in awe of all three of these blokes, and there is not one song on this album that doesn’t contain a ‘WOW’ moment from, one, two, or all of them! How the living fuck they are not touring the world by now being adorned with riches and fobbing off heaps of lovely ladies is beyond my ken.
All stories start at the beginning do they not? Otherwise they would make no sense, so let us start from the first note that rings out on track one “Last Alive”. A fuzzed out seventies sounding guitar lead is the order of the day before our good mate Deryck shows us just how shiny his tonsils are, and as previously stated, what a fucking voice. The riffs are sheer unadulterated bliss, and instantly take you back to the first time Metal got its fangs into you, well that’s if you are an old bugger like myself. The blistering solo work is something almost tear inducing, yes I may have wept once or thrice at it’s sheer beauty. One thing that makes this album so fucking exceptional is also the production. It’s not like a polished turd, but the tone of every instrument is so ‘in your face’ that it defies belief!
“Last Alive” makes me think I’m 18, up at four in the morning and something decent has come on MTV. The beer is put aside as the hair begins to swing and the fist starts pumping. Anthemic, beautiful, and my joy in being a Metal head is suddenly returned for all the right reasons. Shit man, it’s a no brainer I love my Metal, but this stuff makes me almost beam with pride! A colleague of mine whom I shan’t mention (Rick Jackson hehe) reminded me of the latest Khemmis album, and what a cracker it is. I agreed, it is a damn fine album, but two songs in this is already pooping on it from a great and lofty height hahaha.
“Slavery Or Steel” brings more of the classic riffing, the classic wailing, and the urge to just return to the days when things were a lot simpler. Again, the solo guitar work is just heavenly, and the drum and bass combo, often referred to as the rhythm section or so they tell me, just nail this right into your cerebral cortex. “Borderlands” begins like a lot of the old classics did, with some nice clean acoustic work, and a more mellow tone. Right here is where old mate reminds me most of Warrel Dane, and I say that with great respect. Yes, they are not exactly like, but holy fucking gooseballs my friends can this man not only carry a tune, but his variety in delivery is purely exceptional. The solo work (yes I must keep mentioning) is of the type that pulls at heartstrings. Oh them feels.
“While The Gods Laugh” is tantamount to Heavy Metal Nirvana. A cross of styles to some degree, and touching base with my usual stomping ground of Death Metal in a small way. Deryck’s vocal range again showing us that there is nothing this man cannot do, and the other players following suit. Shit me not he even sounds a bit like one of my favourite artists in the world, that being Nick Holmes of Paradise Lost fame when he is doing the grunty stuff! Riffs to die for, a serpentine bass line that weaves in and out like, well, some sort of huge fucking serpent, and every single tap of the drum in perfect cohesion. Never to much, just the right amount of percussion at exactly the right moment. The solos again? Fuck, that’s about all I can say.
“Dark Child” continues the theme of crunchy monstrous riffing, and the vocals continue the theme of dark versus light, and it is a simply spectacular thing to behold. Heck there is even a bit of dissonance thrown in just for shits and giggles. There is never any way you think you have nailed one of their songs, because they change in the blink of an eye into the most fantastical musical passages known to man, or beast for that matter. In actual fact one could be forgiven for thinking Dungeon Wolf almost came from the NWOBHM at times, and this is great for us all.
“Worker Metal Might” is just the epitome of the fist pumping song for the people. Yes, as Deryck sings “You can tell the bourgeoisie I’m back”, “You can tell the royalty they’re dead, crush their crowns and burn them in their beds”, you know he ain’t lying. Forgive me if I got a word or two wrong, but the intent remains the same, and it is as valid now as it ever can be in this day and age. The more time I spend digesting these fine folk, the more impressed I am with not only their musicianship, but also their values as people. Yep, I’m a common man, and fuck the rich, may they all burn in their piles of money hahaha.
And now as we had a beginning, we must surely have an end, and a sad end it is. Luckily for us we have the ability to press play again, otherwise my very heart may have shattered. “Lord Of Endless Night” is the vessel through which we shall pass this time together, and as sure as I am that you are sick of my raving about this band, you can bet that it is another fine example of Metal done to perfection. Almost Sabbath like in tone to begin with, a well laid back piece of music it is indeed. Yes, this is the one that brings to mind Alice cooper, and yet he has never sounded this heavy, nor probably ever needed to. He made his point, and continues to do so. This is a band that is now making theirs, and what a statement it is my friends.
To summarise, Dungeon Wolf is the type of music that needs to be played not in front of two hundred people, nay not even ten thousand. This is the type of stuff that should fill arena’s with like minded individuals who both fight the common fight of the people, and who have a true love for TRUE heavy metal. This isn’t Death Metal heavy, nor Black Metal heavy, not even any other type you may name. This, is HEAVY METAL, and it is as fine as it can ever be. Thank you Dungeon Wolf, you have put a very broad smile on an old mans face.
Rating – 5/5