On May 5th, 2017, AFM Records released Wolves Reign, the fourth release from the all-star hard rock/metal project called Wolfpakk. Wolfpakk’s first release was a self-titled debut in 2011. The collaboration between Sweeney and Voss continued with two more releases before dropping Wolves Reign. Experienced musicians Mark Sweeney (ex-Crystal Ball) and Michael Voss (Mad Max, Michael Schenker) assembled a big cast of well-known musicians to contribute to the band’s most recent outing.
Some of the guest musicians on this current release are:
Vocals: Biff Byford (Saxon), Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids), Michael Vescera (ex-Yngwie Malmsteen), Tony Harnell (TNT), Oliver Hartmann (Avantasia), Jioti Parcharidis (Victory), Steve Grimmett (Grim Reaper), Pasi Rantanen (Thunderstone), Claus Lessmann (Phantom V), Danny Vaughn (Tyketto), Andy Lickford (Lickford).
Guitar: Timo Somers (Delain), Brad Gillis (Night Ranger), George Lynch (Dokken), Alen Brentini (A. Gabalier), Jen Majura (Evanescence), Chris Holmes (W.A.S.P.).
Bass: Rudi Sarzo (Ozzy Osbourne), Marc Lynn (Gotthard), Volker Krawczak (Axel Rudi Pell), Michael Müller (Herman Frank).
Drums: Alex Holzwarth (Avantasia), Gereon Homan
The challenge for an ambitious musical undertaking such as this project, which hosts numerous musicians of this caliber and varied styles, is to choose the right songs to fit the individuals so it allows them to shine, while their performance also enhances the song itself. Even though I am a fan of many of the artists who contributed to this effort, I am not connecting with the material. The musicianship is top notch as you would expect from the roster of killer players on this album, but I just don’t think the songs are strong enough.
That’s not to say there aren’t any bright spots on this album. I like “Falling,” “Inside the Animal Mind,” and “I’m Onto You.” The two songs I most expected to connect with, “Blood Brothers,” which featured Biff Byford (Saxon) and Brad Gillis (Night Ranger), and “Wolves Reign,” featuring Tony Harnell (TNT) and George Lynch (Lynch Mob/Dokken), fell disappointingly short for me.
If you are a fan of the musicians that appear on this record and just want to check out their contributions, definitely check it out, but if you looking for great songwriting and a full album of songs that will make an impact and stick with you, this may not fit the bill. Don’t take my word for it though, give it a listen and let me know if you agree or disagree. And as as always, no matter your personal taste, please get out there and support live and recorded music.
Steven Michael @growinuprock