Returning with their third album in three years, Brazil’s Grey Wolf are aiming at a very specific segment of the heavy metal marketplace with their ‘Glorious Death’ opus. Here are a few clues: The cover artwork depicts a battle scene featuring a shadowy musclebound warrior swinging a bloody battle axe as a mostly naked curvaceous female reclines behind him and barbarian hordes scream in bloodlust while wielding swords, axes and shields. Song titles include the likes of “Conan the Liberator,” “Metal Avenger,” “Cimmeria” and “The Barbarian.” Lead vocals are gruff but clear, guitar riffs are muscular and mighty, and the production has all the subtlety of a bulldozer raging through your living room. Got the picture yet? If you guessed chestbeating true metal in the vein of Ironsword, Battlerage, Hyborean Steel, Majesty and Ravensire, influenced by legends like Manowar and Grave Digger, you win the prize.
Now that it’s clear what style Grey Wolf play, all you need to know is whether they’re good at it. I can unequivocally answer that question in the affirmative. ‘Glorious Death’ ticks all the right boxes for genre fans. The band is led by Fabio “Grey Wolf” Paulinelli, who handles lead vocals, bass guitar, and all songwriting and recording engineer duties. Paulinelli’s rough, limited voice won’t ever be confused with Eric Adams or Bruce Dickinson, but if you can appreciate Tann from Ironsword or Buddy Kohlrausch from Dark at Dawn, then you won’t have any trouble with Grey Wolf’s vocals. The songs are suitably epic and powerful, with anthemic choruses and titanic riffs. Tracks like “Metal Avenger” (with its massive Maiden-ish riff), “Conan the Liberator,” and “Glorious Death” had me singing along and thrusting my fist in the air almost immediately. Paulinelli has mastered the art of capturing an epic feeling in the music without losing an iota of catchiness along the way. He also recognizes the importance of not overstaying his welcome. For example, the first proper track, “The Eyes of the Medusa,” is epic to the max, yet it clocks in at under two and a half minutes. The entire 10-song album is over in 35 minutes. Paulinelli’s philosophy seems to be “hit ‘em hard, hit ‘em fast, and then leave ‘em wanting more.” The pacing of ‘Glorious Death’ is relentlessly heavy and mighty, all the way until the last song, “Cimmeria,” downshifts to round out the proceedings on a more subdued note.
‘Glorious Death’ is easily recommended to fans of the true metal genre. Grey Wolf have improved and honed their craft since last year’s ‘We are Metalheads’ album (released in the USA via Stormspell Records), and it shows. The songs are triumphant, the performances are convincing, and the production values are much stronger than one might expect of a self-recorded album in Brazil. The only caveat that comes to mind are the programmed drums, but the booklet explains that Paulinelli sequenced them only because drummer Wessley Victor had not yet joined the band when the recording was done. I can forgive that, and don’t blame Paulinelli for pressing forward with the production of ‘Glorious Death’ as best he could even without a drummer in tow. If Grey Wolf were European, I believe they would have a die-hard cult following akin to Ironsword or Ravensire. True metal is alive and well in Brazil!
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~