Now that Tobias Sammet appears to have closed the door - at least for the time being - on any more Metal operas under the Avantasia imprint, there would appear to be a gaping hole in the power Metal market marked 'all star Metal concept albums' and, by God, I think this is a gap that needs plugging!
Luckily, so do the men behind Wolfpakk, Mark Sweeney (ex-Crystal Ball) and Michael Voss (who was, as you probably know, the leading light behind the monstrously brilliant Mad Max back in the day).
For this project, they have assembled an utterly stellar collection of special guest stars to augment their brand of strident, melodic power Metal. I won't bore you with a list as long as your arm of who appears on this album, but I will give you one or two names to be going on with: Paul Di'anno! Tony Martin! Jeff Scott Soto! Paul Shortino! Ripper Owens! (That's enough names: Ed)
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And that's just a few of the guest vocalists. Whilst some of the names on this album are notorious guns for hire who'd turn up to recordings of the new 'Yo! Gabba Gabba' album if they thought there was a few quid in it, the sheer level of quality on display here should tell you all you need to know about the calibre of songs that Sweeney and Voss have come up with for Wolfpakk - this is the good stuff.
The album ain't as varied or visionary as any of the albums released under the Avantasia banner - how could it be? - but it is a wonderful record in its own right, fusing elements of Accept, Helloween and Blind Guardian to a more 'classic' Metal feel, redolent of bands such as Freedom Call, to end up with a very satisfying listen indeed.
Epic Metal, eighties hard rock - it's all here, with the likes of 'Let Me Die' and 'Reptile's Kiss' prospective top candidates for end-of-year 'best of' lists wherever high class heavy Metal is heard with reverence and glee. Let's hope this album is a success, and we get to hear more from the Voss/Sweeney partnership!