Lycanthro – Mark Of The Wolf

Mark Of The Wolf Album Cover Art

Lycanthro – Mark Of The Wolf
Alone Records
Release Date: 04/06/2021
Running Time: 43:02
Review by Simon Black
7/10

If you mention Power Metal to many fans in the UK, a fair few will wrinkle their noses in disdain, which is a shame, because if your opinion is based purely on what you have heard from Europe, then you are probably missing a trick. It’s a subject I discuss often on these pages, but when we talk about the genre of Power Metal we really are talking about two completely different styles that developed in parallel from a common root (which you can trace back to the Global Supergroup Rainbow and in particular Ronnie James Dio) but which then diverged a continent and major ocean apart. The European variant branch started with Helloween (even though they hate the term) and tends to be closer to NWOBHM and Speed Metal, is more melodic and keyboard orientated, with an unhealthy obsession with over-complex pseudo-historical, fantasy or mythical concept story arcs. The North American branch is a very different beast more akin to up tempo traditional Heavy Metal, with more riffage, little or no keyboards and is generally darker and heavier than its Euro counterpart. Given that Thrash was happening in parallel, way back when, there are many similarities, so when an act like this comes along that blatantly fuses bits of the attitude that came with Thrash and the sentiments of Power Metal this does not come as a great surprise.

For a start Lycanthro hail from Canada, a country whose Metal bands frequently do not get enough attention over here in the UK. It’s their first full album, but not all the material on here is original and dates back to their demo days and has been given a much needed freshen up and revamp. Fantasy themes abound on this record thematically, but it’s not a concept – although there are plenty of werewolves, witches, dragons and the odd hunchback. The album was apparently recorded in a cabin in the woods near Quebec (no TV’s to throw out of hotel windows here, as it might land on your tent), but it probably goes a long way to the slightly spooky atmosphere some of the songs on this interesting debut.

The Thrash / Power hybrid screams out loud and clear from the get-go, with ‘Crucible’, an absolute belter which, right from the first few bars, indicates that Vocalist James Delbridge has something of a range on him. The verse is fairly down and gruff but scales the octaves like a rocket into the chorus. Not an easy trick to pull off quickly, but he does it effortlessly. In fact ‘effortlessly’ is a word that runs through this recording like the lettering in a bar of seaside rock. The staccato time changes in here are not common in Euro Metal, and it creates a great sense of energy in what is actually a technically quite clever track, even though it does not seem so on the surface. ‘Fallen Angels Prayer’ is quite ambitious in its delivery. It feels like it’s going to be a more middle of the road rocker at first before taking a distinctly Symphonic turn with the additional of a really spooky choral section that sets the hairs on the back of your neck on end to finish. The title track doesn’t break new ground, but ‘Enchantress’ is an attempt at something more epic and complex, and in its seven minutes has the space to experiment a little more, but perhaps could have benefitted from tightening up a little earlier on, although the lengthy instrumental bridges evoke early Maiden and are worth waiting for. ‘In Metal We Trust’ is what you would expect with a title like that – a fist-pumping live anthem in the early 80’s Priest vein. Hold out for ‘Evangelion’ as well – it’s the latest single, and is one of the more musically European sounding tracks with a rich, epic feel to it, and which perhaps hints at the maturity that has developed over the course of the lengthy gestation period of the record’s songs. It’s not quite a Power Ballad, but it’s definitely one of the strongest and most mature tracks on this record.

Overall, this is a very promising start, but the mixed bag of old and new material clearly shows it’s covering a longer song-writing period, so it’s going to be interesting to see how they approach their next record. For my money, the older and more complex songs like ‘Lycanthro’ and the blisteringly tight ‘Into Oblivion’ have benefitted from a few more years of polish and muscle memory, but I’m far from writing the newer songs off yet. Interestingly, technically proficient and with an incredibly promising vocal delivery, this is clearly a band to watch.

‘Evangelion’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Crucible
02. Fallen Angels Prayer
03. Mark Of The Wolf
04. Enchantress
05. In Metal We Trust
06. Into Oblivion
07. Ride The Dragon
08. Evangelion

LINE-UP:
James Delbridge – Vocals, Guitars
David Shute – Guitars
Carlo Cote – Bass
Nathan Shuman – Drums
Forrest Dussault – Guitars

LINKS:

Lycanthro Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

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