After an eleven-year-long hiatus from the musical landscape, Seasons of the Wolf are crashing back in a big way. Who? Well, OK, me too. Opening up the promo from Iron Shield Records, I was previously unfamiliar with this US band. Forming in Florida in 1988, Seasons of the Wolf have issued four long players ahead of Last Act of Defiance. After the self-titled debut in 1996, Lost in Hell came in 1999, Nocturnal Revelation in 2001 and 2007 saw Once in a Blue Moon hit shelves. Now on January 26, 2018, from Iron Shield Records we will receive their latest work, Last Act of Defiance. One look at the multi-headed fire-breathing dragon on the cover art and you know this is gonna be awesome Power Metal. Although the name logo does say more Death Metal…
Seasons of the Wolf, it seems, have had some difficulties in getting this work out there. Originally Last Act of Defiance wrapped up recording in 2012! Just to reach the completion stage the band had a major hurdle to surpass. Vocalist Wes Waddell became ill during the early recordings for the album in 2008/2009. So much so that he was unable to continue. To finish recording, guitarist Barry “Skully” Waddell provided lead vocals on four tracks. I would assume given the same surname that Barry and Wes would be related. The album features bass parts by Bill Bois and Phaedra Rubio and drummers Mark Empire and Wayne Hoefle. Now for 2018, we find Robert Vaughn Baxter (vocals), Sam Conable (bass), and Ken Trapp (drums) alongside originals Barry Waddell (guitar) and Dennis “Dr. Samurai” Ristow (keyboards).
SEASONS OF THE WOLF – Last Act of Defiance
Some ambient, almost space type noises give way to the opening guitar riffs of “Solar Flare”. Fast-paced, charging NWOBHM/Power Metal stylings with venomous vocals greeted me within the 4:41 runtime of this lead track. And had me hooked. I’ve never been a fan of those, what I call, pointless intros at the beginnings of albums. My take on that certainly doesn’t improve when it’s placed in the track 2 position. The 1:06 minute “Desert Night Sky” effectively breaks the momentum laid down by “Solar Flare”. That’s not a plus in my books.
Wow! Track three, “Take Us to the Stars” chomps a massive bite right outta you! More spacey noises to start, before it breaks out hard and heavy! A low down massive guitar coupled with snarling vocals. Another great track! Each song is like its own story, self-contained. “Be Careful What You Wish” starts out softly, giving a Baxter chance to stretch the vocal chords range. It’s a north of seven-minute epic that compounds as the time winds towards the end.
“Centuries of Pain” is another multi-textured mid-paced ripper. In contrast, “Drifter” begins to turn up the heat a bit more. But “Fool’s Gold” is simply on fire! Catchy accessible chorus. High energy earthshaker with a little Hammond organ thrown in. The airiness of “Another Day” leads through to“Dark Stratosphere” which features no singing. “No More Room In Hell” exhibits a wicked thrashy flavor that’s sure to cause neck stiffness. The ride comes to an end with the title track. Another thrash cut with an up and down pace and some piercing vocals.
Final Thoughts on SEASONS OF THE WOLF – Last Act of Defiance
Ten solid tracks (and one intro), each more of a stand-alone than a part of a collection. A great album throughout which I hear NWOBHM flavorings combined with elements of Power Metal. The more you digest, the more you like, for me at least. If you’re a fan of those genres, give Seasons of the Wolf a shot, methinks you’ll not regret it. Now to get my hands (ears) on the back catalog…