This, my friends, is metal. Not hair-banger glam rock from 80's stink fingers. This is from the harder mold of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath. The heavily distorted guitars pumping angry rhythms and perfectly synched melodic runs is where the similarity begins, not ends. Thick with the dark imagery, barbarian-era overtones of magic, justice, and hedonism of the metal of yore. Oh for the days when you knew that any album with Conan-esque art on the cover meant it kicked ass. Using legacy synths reminiscent of Moogs and ARPs only adds to the overall nostalgia. But don't think this is a rehashing.
With any other band, I would think they were pulling my leg if they told me they formed on Halloween. Having been around since Oct. 31st, 1988, Seasons of the Wolf has enjoyed more longevity than even some of the most successful bands to date. Their polish and tight sound is not an accident, and the album thrives on a sound that's been honed since the 80s.
It may be familiar in style and in smatterings of sound, but this ain't your Uncle Jake's 70's Metal. Drawing from over 20 years of advancement of the heavy stuff, it incorporates elements of thrash, speed, death, and even headbanger; without ever bending the audience over for a good old dose of 80's showboating.
The vocals never go over the top, for as much as they push the edge of being preachy. The genre holds them in check, and gives them a little leeway. This is really evident in Liar. A slow power-piece with a lot of guts that stands out as a vocal showcase.
Plus, their use of synths and melody to create mood and place, as in Dance of a Thousand Veils, showcases a variety styles. For as strange as it may sound, you could bellydance to this song, yet it does not seem out of place on the album. Not for its divergence of sound, but for its dark night feel. This is also evident in Quilex. This may be the only place outside of porn where you can hear heavy metal guitar backing up a moog-sounding melody.
For old school power ballads look no further than Skulls. This tune gave me heavy flashbacks. For a brief and shining moment Carter was in the Whitehouse, and the 8-track of Skulls was pumping straight to my brain through heavy Pionex earmuff headphones as I reached for the Blue Oyster Cult bong I won at Seaside Heights.
Overall Seasons of the Wolf's sound, albeit nostalgic, never turns into a tribute. Because to them it isn't a past tense. Heavy power ballad rock mixed with head banging ass kicking tunes makes it music to cruise to in the day, chill to at night, and even get a little Timothy Leary to. That is if you think you can handle the instrumental Dark and Lonely Depths when you're peaking.
They have crafted a mix of old and new without being pretentious, and without sounding played out. It runs the gamut of sounds and emotions in metal. And to put the icing on the cake, in the song Transmission they get away with referencing 'Metal' in a metal song; something that has been an implied taboo since the breakup of White Lion (and the formation of Poison). And for this Nocturnal Revelation, for however dated it may sound at times, still has a freshness and strength that keeps the dust of bands like Dio and Dokken from accumulating on it.
Post: SOTW, 6071 17th Street East Unit #5, Bradentown, FL, 34203