Leatherwolf - World Asylum
Massacre Records
Heavy Metal
10 songs (46:05)
Release year: 2006
Leatherwolf, Massacre Records
Reviewed by Mike

Finally, after a mere seventeen years, Leatherwolf has finally released their next studio album. The newest offering from the vaunted "triple axe attack" is entitled World Asylum, the first studio album from the band since 1989's Street Ready. The Street Ready lineup of Leatherwolf did release a live album Wide Open in 1999, but there have been a number of lineup changes since that time. Most notably, lead vocalist / guitarist Michael Olivieri has been replaced by Wade Black, who is most recently known for his work with Crimson Glory, Seven Witches, and Leash Law. Eric Halpern (Destiny's End) and Pete Perez (Riot) have replaced Carey Howe and Paul Carman respectively. If you're keeping track, that means drummer Dean Roberts and guitarist Geoff Gayer are the only original members left. While this album is certainly not a carbon copy of the band's previous works, the spirit of the classic Leatherwolf sound is alive and well on World Asylum.

My expectations for this album were honestly not that high when I heard of all the lineup changes. I am pleasantly surprised with the end result of World Asylum. The band decided not to follow the more melodic, keyboard tinged path paved on their last studio albums. While I would hesitate to compare this album to any of the band's previous works, the heavier and straight forward approach of the debut album is most representative of today's version of Leatherwolf.

Classic heavy metal mixed with some elements of US Power Metal is where the band is today. The sound has a contemporary feel to it, but stylistically, we are talking about classic heavy metal / US Power Metal. The keyboards have been cast by the wayside, but the awe inspiring guitar work of yesteryear is lathered over every second of this album. That's not to say that the songs aren't catchy at all, but the instantly striking melodies of Street Ready and Leatherwolf (1987) are not to be found on this album. I've never thought of Wade Black as more than just a "good" metal vocalist, but he does turn in an impressive effort on this album. As a huge fan of Leatherwolf and their classic first three albums, I do miss Olivieri on vocals, but Black's style is natural match for Leatherwolf's present style. After hearing this album several times, I have a new found respect for the guitar godliness of Geoff Gayer. His blazing solos and shreds shower each and every song, the most recognizable ingredient to Leatherwolf's present and past sound. Of course, he has recruited some well seasoned and talented musicians to replace departed members, but I tip my hat to the man for being able to keep the formidable guitar sound of Leatherwolf alive after all these years and changes.

As I touched on before, the heaviness of this album surprised me a bit. I had expected the band to stay close to the more melodic rock based sound of Street Ready, but Leatherwolf has instead decided to put forth a full metal assault on World Asylum. This really allows the band to showcase the impressive guitar skills that put them on the map years ago. Even though the album doesn't try to sell itself with instantly recognizable melodies, the songs still have a memorable quality to them that will make you want to come back to them repeatedly. The guitar work alone is enough to keep this CD in my rotation for the foreseeable future. I don't want to take anything away from Dean Roberts, who puts forth a magnificent effort behind the drum kit. He maintains the perfect mix of power and varied beats throughout the album to ensure that the sound stays fresh and unpredictable. This might be the one area of Leatherwolf's sound where the progressive element is still hanging on. Roberts throws some a lot of interesting licks into his repertoire, but at the same time keeping the energy level at full throttle. I could easily see this guy playing drums for a prog/power metal band.

Despite the lineup changes and number of years between studio releases, things really come together quite well for Leatherwolf on this album. The only songs I really don't like is the experimental Insitutions. It's not a bad song, but I feel like it's too drastic of a deviation into something that Leatherwolf is not. The song is much too dark and sludgy for Leatherwolf, and the distorted vocals sound terrible. Of course, new fans to the band may find more to appreciate with this song, but speaking as a old school fan of this band, Institutions rubbed me the wrong way a but. Still, the rest of the album is surprisingly strong, much more than I would have predicted. I don't feel the album is quite up to masterpiece level, but it's not far off. Leatherwolf never got their deserved attention years ago, but hopefully World Asylum will serve as a second birth of the band; a chance for fans to appreciate their current music, and to discover the gems that the band recorded nearly 2 decades ago. With the power of the internet, Leatherwolf should be able to reach out to fans eager to hear some kick ass heavy metal, as they mysteriously were unable to do years ago. With their comeback album now under their belts, I am confident that Leatherwolf have what it takes to realease excellent albums, if not masterpieces in the coming years. With any luck, Leatherwolf may achieve the recognition now that they never got (but deserved) so long ago.

Killing Songs :
I Am The Law, Behind The Gun, Live or Die, Dr. Wicked
Mike quoted 86 / 100
Other albums by Leatherwolf that we have reviewed:
Leatherwolf - New World Asylum reviewed by Mike and quoted no quote
Leatherwolf - Street Ready reviewed by Danny and quoted 95 / 100
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