GLORYDAZE Music Review
Here’s a new band alerted to us a few weeks ago from GDAZE regular RKBLUEZ. They are the 80’s sounding metal outfit called Firewolfe. Unlike the 80’s however, this band are borne on the strands of the fibre-optic highway, a five-piece collective who have used the tools of the Internet and their own respective home studios across the length and breadth of the USA to aggregate a collection of songs which is pure traditional sounding 80’s metal in the vein of Savatage, Armored Saint, Metal Church, Vicious Rumors and the like. Formed by guitarists-in-league Paul Kleff and Nick Layton, the duo realised they had more in common than first appeared, and so began a process of collaboration in 2010 that bore fruit after joint songwriting efforts. The exchange of musical ideas cemented to the point of progressing to a full band situation with other players. Next onboard came singer Dave Fefolt, a singer who has credits with Masi, Angels Of Babylon and Rhino, and whose voice was the perfect instrument to carry the Firewolfe songs. Jay Schellen (Hurricane, Unruly Child etc) provides the drums while session bassist Zack Uidl rounds out the band. To give you an idea as to how ‘inter-continental’ Firewolfe are, Kleff lives in Michigan, Layton in Vancouver, Fefolt in Phoenix, Schellen is from Los Angeles while Uidl resides in Chicago. The transfer of large music files across the Net is the way of the music industry these days, though it does make band practice a lot tougher now.. lol! However, I wonder how soon we’ll be able to see musicians ‘jam’ with each other live across the Internet? If I’m thinking of it now, guaranteed it will happen within my lifetime.
Much like L.A metallers Malice led off their 1984 debut with the song ‘Air Attack’, so too do Firewolfe, though not the same song obviously. Still, the chugging guitars from Kleff and Layton and the manly vocals from Fefolt does enough early in the piece to convince me that Firewolfe has the firepower to inflict maximum damage to my ear-drums. The processed guitars and huge overall sound makes ‘Unholy’ a particular highlight. It’s easy to hear the old Savatage material filtering through the mix, and with a simple but effective chorus, this is the way traditional metal should always be. The Savatage comparison is reinforced on the titletrack ‘Firewolfe’, though the lyrics are straight out of the late Ronnie James Dio handibook. All good by me! ‘Armed Forces’ is industrial strength metal complete with big riffs, pinch harmonics and double kick drums from Schellen. ‘Back From Hell’ retains the heavier than thou approach, musically not as demonic as the songtitle suggests, but still it combines the favoured 80’s style of metal with a modern production and arrangement. The best of both worlds.
Taking the slower but intense route is ‘Wicked Words’, with guitars set to ‘stun’ and a crushing back-end rhythm section. Kleff and Layton dominate precedings on the instrumental ‘Ice Wizard’, and though it has the makings of a noodly neo-classical fret-fest it doesn’t quite get there, with solos only occasionally rearing its head. ‘Tempter’ is one of two longer tracks on the album (the other being the six plus minutes of ‘Armed Forces’), clocking in at just under six minutes. Again, Savatage is a strong reference to my ears, the songs patient build up reminding us how classic U.S metal used to be back in the day. One of my favorite tracks is the killer sounding ‘M.O.D.’ (a.k.a ‘Metal Or Die’) with the twin axe work completely OTT. I think the metal world has found a new replacement pairing to take over from Tipton and Downing. Last but not least, ‘Feel The Thunder’ has prog metal potential with its orchestral intro but things are bought back into perspective with tight drumming, gang-chant vocals and guitars fitting more into the mould of classic metal than anything else. The six-string shredding reminding me of all those neo-classical cats from the 80’s like Joey Tafolla and Marty Friedman.
Firewolfe are bound to shake up the metal world with this classy release. Interesting to see former Asia member John Payne handling the mix for this album alongside Jay Schellen. The pair have given the album a forceful sound and remained true to the ideals of 80’s metal, which is where all these blokes originate from anyway. Released as an indepedent CD back in July 2011, Firewolfe have just recently inked a deal with Japanese metal label Rubicon Music to have the album released in Japan, whereby the CD will feature an additional bonus track ‘Waiting For Daylight’. In the meantime, the CD is easily available from the regular Net Retailers, or you could go one better and order a whole bunch of Firewolfe product directly from their Online Shop.
Review by Craig Hartranft
Here’s the bottom line at the start: if you dig classic American melodic heavy/power metal, then you should stop reading now and buy FireWolfe’s debut album.
Here’s the long review, if you’d like to stick around.
FireWolfe is a collaborative effort of love by five dudes making music that they love and would listen to themselves. It also reflects their influences which include, to name only a few, Priest, Maiden, Savatage, and Accept. Firewolfe is powered by the twin guitar assault of Nick Layton and Paul Kleff, two masters in their own field. Aiding them at the microphone is David Fefolt (Angels of Babylon, Hawk, et al) with his clean, assertive, and pure metal vocal style. They are undergirded by the precise rhythm section of Zack Uidl (b) and Jay Schellen (d). But let’s get to the music.
You’re met with some brisk melodic metal at the start with Air Attack as heaviness merges with some sweet melodic hooks in lyric and vocal arrangements. Ditto for Unholy, perhaps closer to melodic hard rock, maybe later Rainbow meets early Whitesnake, but edgy enough to be metal. Bless those guitar angles. However, it does get a little tiring at the end with constant repetition of the chorus. The guitar fills are the only salvation.
FireWolfe turns to epic power metal with title cut. It’s quite a change from the previous material. Mixing tempos, the song charges on, both telling a tale and delivering vigorous classic metal. Armed Forces returns to catchy hooks found earlier, but while melody and accessibility remain, heaviness and power are the key elements here.
FireWolfe blurs the line between melodic hard rock and metal on Back From Hell. Between the clever lyrics with it’s arresting chorus and the bold melody, this is seriously entertaining material, and then there’s those guitar solos. Turn it up! Considering the tune and just thinking out loud, I wonder what this song would sound like stripped of the metal and put into a blues rock context. Or maybe just done ‘unplugged’ as an afterthought.
From here to the end there’s some rather interesting material, but also an awkward moment. Wicked Words once again melds metal with harder melodic rock but, expecting the drumming, this song fell flat on my ears. It sounded like a clone of a Jorn Lande tune. The instrumental Ice Wizard follows. It’s more a collaborative arrangement among the players rather than merely a showcase for guitar fireworks, and that’s a very good thing. Tempter is once more melodic metal with a clever arrangement and AOR sensibility, but some times a foreboding feel. This debut rounds out with M.O.D. (Metal or Die) and Feel the Thunder, two very good metal anthems. Both are marked by sophisticated arrangements allowing every musician to shine but, also, quite simply, massive amounts of riffage, melody, and fiery fret work to rock you to the bone. Finishing well is always good.
The band of metal brothers that is FireWolfe get classic melodic metal right on their debut. Well-crafted arrangements and strong musicianship make FireWolfe inspired and entertaining heavy metal. Buy this album and rock on!
Written by Grigoris Chronis
Just like good ol’ wine… FIREWÖLFE‘s debut album is a blast and I had a great fuckin’ time falling in love with it, placing it on top of this summer’s soundtracks, way first in the list. Fans of mature traditional US Metal should leave no opportunity holding such a splendid release in their hands.
Nowadays, some say that virtually everything has been played in Heavy Metal music adding stories about progress, evolution, new sounds and productions blah blah blah. Without having any intention to judge on other heavy-hitting sounds, “Firewölfe” is the kind of album forcing you to raise a middle finger high against all those implying on classic Metal’s role decades after the molten 80s. Well, here’s the answer you muthas! And it comes straight from the hearts of metalheads in their 40s-50s, who still deliver the goods like no-turning-back teenagers.
Fronted by the exceptional voice of Dave Fefolt (HAWK, VALHALLA, ANGELS OF BABYLON, now in the reformed FIFTH ANGEL), who I consider to be one of the best voices in the Metal scene ever, FIREWÖLFE strike hard with ten dynamic tracks full of old fashioned but not retro-philiac energy aiming high to the metallic pantheon. No questions asked, this self-financed CD can shake your brains with its neat profile.
It has everything: great both dynamic and equally melodic riffs, harmonious intriguing lead themes, passionately heavy bass lines and colourful tasty drumming. And on top of all, the marvelous voice of Dave Fefolt who can act both as a killer on the loose, passionate lover and relentless outlaw at the same song.
The myth of DIO, SAVATAGE, JUDAS PRIEST, ACCEPT, QUEENSRŸCHE and FIFTH ANGEL really outbursts in this album. The sole reason it will not be Album Of The Month in current mag issues worldwide can only be the fact that the band forgot to mail it! Forget new bands just like-reviving the 80s style, here’s the final and strongest argument why traditional Metal music will always stand tall, mighty and proud!
Reviewed by Giannis Tsakonas
If you are regular visitor and reader of Metal Perspective you have probably witnessed that we are quite open in other genres that often cross the boundaries of metal, say post metal, post rock, etc. It is true that some of us like these hearings and it would be false to deny it. But you know what? We never ignore or turn our backs to genuine heavy metal bands. Pile a thousand other CDs over one heavy metal and we definitely pick that for the simple reason that all metalheads would do the same. Because the blood boils, the spine shivers and the head is banging at the sound of thundering heavy metal. Metal like the one that FireWolfe offers us. This US power/heavy metal act will definitely stun you with the exceptional music they have composed and faultlessly perfumed. We are talking about speaker-blowing stuff of the highest calibre. Imagine early Savatage, Dio (and Dio-era Black Sabbath), Fifth Angel and Judas Priest packed in one!!! And yes that’s it. Go ahead and listen “Unholy”, which will make the mighty Ronnie’s soul rejoice up in the Heavens, or the Savatage-like “Tempter”, and then revise any thoughts you had that the US is not giving the hot, melting metal it used to give us. No, it does, thanks to bands like FireWolfe.
The album features ten songs of pure power/heavy metal in a very nice and controlled production. It also features brilliant guitar-work by Nick Layton and Paul Kleff – mainly in the themes part, but in the soloing as well (check the solos in “FireWolfe” and you’ll remember my words) – and soaring vocals by David Fefolt (it would be definitely another album without him). The rhythm section, courtesy of Zack Uidl and Jay Schellen, is thundering and literally crushes everything in songs like “M.O.D.” or “Armed Forces”. I have named a few songs, but my favorite out of the debut album of FireWolfe is “Back From Hell”, where melodic guitar themes and riffs, lead and backing vocals, smart bass-lines and punctuate drumming, they all unite in an anthemic false-love-song.
To conclude, if you are a metalhead and you moan about the dryness in the field of pure metal, then you are absolutely right. But you can stop moaning. Check FireWolfe and purchase their debut album. I am positive they will reward you. The FireWolfe awaits you…
Review by HMC
Let’s get one thing straight right up front. If you like traditional metal in the style of Dio, Judas Priest, Malice, Fifth Angel or Leatherwolf, then you need to grab yourself a copy of the self titled debut release from FireWolfe. It really is that simple and I’ve no qualms in telling you that this is the best pure metal album I’ve heard – especially from a new act – in a serious length of time. The brainchild of guitarists Paul Kleff and Nick Layton – FireWolfe are a guitar heavy beast, intent on ripping your head off with razor sharp riffs and mighty solos. With the addition of singer David Fefolt (Angels Of Babylon) and ace drummer Jay Schellen (Unruly Child) FireWolfe are an unstoppable force, so make sure to get this cracker asap !
Review by Nikiforos Skoumas
A year past the Angel of Babylon debut, lead singer David Fefolt re-emerges with yet another heavy metal project/band, FireWolfe. To be fair, Firewolfe is actually the brainchild of guitarists Paul Kleff and Nick Layton who decided to join forces, also featuring bassist Zack Uidl and renowned drummer Jay Schellen.
In their respective careers this cast of musicians has delivered works in a multitude of rock/metal sub-genres, from AOR and glam metal to power metal and neoclassical; subsequently FireWolfe could be regarded as a return to ground zero, being heavy metal in classic ‘80s fashion. For that matter, FireWolfe demonstrates a bit of everything: thick riffs, melodic guitars, standard-to-groovy rhythm section, and stylish vocal performances, all balanced admirably on the ten songs of the album.
FireWolfe is far from a guitar-centric work as all instruments manage to shine on the release. It is true that you get a fair amount of guitar shred exchange between the guitarists, yet if one was to decide on the protagonist instrument on FireWolfe, that would definitely be Fefolt’s singing. In fact, lot of the album’s character is very much due to David who seems to know how to induce the ‘bad boy’ attitude of rock n’ roll in each song while combining it with the protestant nature of heavy metal vocals. And since classic-sounding heavy metal has been over-explored through the decades, (taking into account the NWOBHM movement) it comes down to David’s technical ability in forging this newcomer group’s musical identity. For the biggest part Fefolt meets that objective: while the riffs might have been heard before, the choruses are actually pretty memorable, indeed “FireWolfe,” “Armed Forces” and “Air Attack” require no more than one play for one to be infected by the vocal melodies.
That is not to say however that one does not come across minor surprises, namely “Back from Hell” breaking free from its opening mid-tempo groove into a speeding bridge and chorus bringing to the front some refreshingly sarcastic lyrics.
On the other hand, FireWolfe features “Metal or Die” and “Armed Forces” which could be characterized as extra-predictable fist-pumping anthems. Although such clichés are probably an attribute of the particular sub-genre of old school heavy metal and perhaps has to be there if a release is to be considered complete.
The case of FireWolfe is rather simple, for any enthusiast of ‘80s heavy metal, this is satisfaction guaranteed, baring all the musical elements a fan would expect to hear; conclusively Fefolt and co have successfully delivered on the promise of a classic-sounding metal album.
Review by Steven Reid
Let’s get one thing straight right up front. If you like traditional metal in the style of Dio, Judas Priest or Leatherwolf, then you need to grab yourself a copy of the self titled debut release from FireWolfe. It really is that simple and I’ve no qualms in telling you that this is the best pure metal album I’ve heard – especially from a new act – in a serious length of time.
The brainchild of guitarists Paul Kleff and Nick Layton – who between them have mustered a solo album each, FireWolfe are a guitar heavy beast, intent on ripping your head off with razor sharp riffs and mighty solos. However more importantly, they’ve written some bristling, menacing and memorable songs which are embellished rather than dominated by the immense guitar work. Adding some thump to the roar are bassist Zack Uidl and Hurricane, Asia, GPS and Unruly Child drummer Jay Schellen, who together make for a completely enthralling and brutal rhythm section. The real masterstroke however is the inclusion of singer David Fefolt, whose rasping howl is just perfect, jostling against the muscular riffs, with the Angel Of Babylon, Valhalla and Masi frontman turning in the sort of confident, commanding performance that most metal singers can only dream of.
With a sound that is reminiscent of some of the classic British metal acts of the 80’s, FireWolfe add a more US twist to their sound, resulting in an album that sizzles with energy, but still provides choruses that burrow into your head and refuse to let go. A quick blast through “Air Attack”, “FireWolfe” and “Armed Forces”, are enough to have you totally hooked, making you howl along, while cavorting through the house, air-guitar blazing wildly! If however you are seeking something a little more sophisticated, then look no further than the staccato riffed “Back From The Hell”, or the atmospheric instrumental “Ice Wizard”. That said though, it really is with the rip-roaring, up and at ’em shout of “Feel The Thunder” where FireWolfe really shine.
As debut albums go FireWolfe is a serious statement of intent and one which stands up against repeated listens, actually gaining intensity the more familiar the songs become.
So what’s left to say? Get yourself over to the FireWolfe website and buy it. That’s what!!!!
Review by Urban “Wally” Wallstrom
Fronted by powerhouse-vocalist David Fefolt (ex-Masi, Angels Of Babylon, Hawk, Valhalla) and supplied with excellent twin guitarwork by Nick Layton and Paul Kleff (both have multiple US tours doing guitar clinics for Guitar Center, Sam Ash and other major music stores), this particular pack of wolves are all set for metal havoc and biting mayhem. The albums’ been mixed by John Payne (Asia) and Jay Schellen (Hurricane, Asia, Unruly Child, World Trade) and it’s a pleasant surprise actually. Schellen takes also care of all the top notch drumming aka drums on the album by the way.
You can definitely tell what kind of album this is just by listening to a couple of minutes on the Firewolfe’s debut as they’re using killer lines such as this one from the opening track, “Air Attack”, and I quote, “Eating the dirt and spitting out lead with luck on your side soon you’ll be dead”, end quote. Hah! Did anyone say fluffy westcoast music in style of Toto and The Doobie Brothers??? No, of course not, this is pure old skool heavy metal in the mighty fine tradition of bands such as Judas Priest, Dio, Savatage, The Rods, Banshee (Race Against Time), Sanctuary.
I didn’t expect anything to be honest and they’re a band who’ve really popped out of nowhere to join the A list of several more “professional” acts on the market. Here’s the million dollar question though! Why are these guys still unsigned??? Sure, it’s not a groundbreaking record and they’re certainly not doing anything we haven’t heard before (style-wise). However, I simply can’t stop shouting along to the likes of “Unholy”, “Firewolfe”, “Back From Hell”, etc. as they have the energy to create the coolest headbanging spasm attack on the most strongheaded A&R representative. The enchanting refrain of “Armed Forces” simply kills and I’m pretty sure that fans of Jorn Lande will also get a kick of these ten tracks of metal. Surf along to their site (below link) and have a listen to samples of all tracks, get a free download song, and eventually pick up a copy of the CD as this is VERY METAL (the latter according to the famous words of Vyvyan)…
Review by Ruben Mosqueda
When Sleaze Roxx last caught up with singer David Fefolt he was riding high with the critically acclaimed Angels Of Babylon and their debut album Kingdom Of Evil. Shortly afterwards Fefolt announced that he had joined the revamped Seattle based power-metal act Fifth Angel, and within weeks he proclaimed that he was leaving Angels Of Babylon — but promised that there would be more music with yet another band. That band is FireWolfe, who has released their self-titled debut album in a similar ‘under the radar’ fashion as Angels Of Babylon.
FireWolfe is a traditional, or classic melodic metal band, and are students of metal as the influences of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Rainbow, Heaven & Hell, and Accept are all well represented. In addition to the powerhouse vocals of David Fefolt, the band features the twin guitar assault of Nick Layton and Paul Kleff — a remarkable team that excel throughout this recording. The duo lay down neo-classical licks, memorable power chords, and hot-headed solos. The rhythm section consists of bassist Zach Uidl and hard rock veteran Jay Schellen on drums (best known for his work in Hurricane).
The choruses on this album are memorable, catchy, repetitive and have this ‘sing-a-long’ type quality to them — no matter how cheesy they might be at times — and the hooks compliment the heaviness of the drumming and riffing provided by the band. A couple of examples of this are the songs “Air Attack” and “Armed Forces” — I had visions of the film Iron Eagle part I through III (not part IV, that was just too cheesy) running through my head while listening to them. “Unholy” is an outstanding track where the chorus sticks around for a tad too long, but it doesn’t detract from the overall song. If you can get passed the slight lyrical nuisances you will enjoy the songs and this album.
What good is it if you’re in a power metal band and you don’t have your own ‘epic’ song? It’s mandatory that you have one, and for FireWolfe is it “FireWolfe” — one of the better tracks on the album and sure to become a fan favorite. It’s like a rhythmic rollercoaster ride and comes to a bombastic climax at the end with some Yngwie Malmsteen inspired shredding. There’s one song on the album that is lackluster as “Wicked Words” comes off as rushed and forced –it simply doesn’t fit the flow of the album.
With FireWolfe we find David Fefolt surrounding himself once again with quality players that write and record good music. The question is, does this edge out Angels Of Babylon‘s Kingdom Of Evil? The answer would be ‘no’, but this got reasonably close.