Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Leatherwolf ~ Street Ready

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: heavy metal
Label: Island Records
Year: 1989
Home: California

Mike Olivieri ~ vocals/guitar
Geoff Gayer, Carey Howe ~ guitars
Paul Carman ~ bass
Dean Roberts ~ drums
A potential rising star is the description that was laced with Leatherwolf during the early 80's due to their "triple axe attack", which would come to be their official nickname. One would expect that three guitars - they're all lead not rhythm only & lead - would make Leatherwolf eternally known. Other than Iron Maiden there's not too many three axe onslaughts on the early 80's scene. Further, they don't clutter their sound with a wall of noise, but let a guitar fade into the mix or pull out so another can be heard. They also take advantage of split channels with a solo in one ear & rhythm in the other. While one may not be able to always pick out one guitarist over the other, they've worked hard to keep everything balanced & the experience of what three guitars sounds like constantly clear to listen to. Though, more often than not, two guitars are prominent, while the third seems to be hard to pinpoint. There's even an instrumental, "Black Knight", that often gets mentioned as a tour-de-force. Sadly, its the shortest track & another instrumental would be welcomed ... which leads to the problem with the album & Leatherwolf in general & why its potential before rising star. There's two problems - the vocals & the material. Guitarist/vocalist Mike Olivieri isn't a bad singer, but he doesn't necessarily stand out either, while the lyrics are run of the mill. I'm reminded of Talas, where you listen for Billy Sheehan but instead you get some guy singing. That's nice, but anyone can do a love song but not anyone has a triple axe attack. It doesn't help that the songs suffer from falling into cliched early 80's Judas Priest inspired heavy metal cliches a la Queensryche that was a watered down version of what they'd started out doing in 1982. If it was twenty years later & this was a prog-metal band not trying to stay in a template things might be better for Leatherwolf's legacy. This was the second album by Leatherwolf, they'd break up soon, though would return in 1999 & then again for a couple albums over the next decade. They continue to perform but rarely record. Of note, original bassist Matt Hurich would later join Stryper, while the first reunion vocalist was Wade Black of Seven Witches & Crimson glory. Morphing into a bluesy band they'd tour for awhile as Hail Mary.

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