Anthems Of Resistance (Napalm)
Wolfpack Unleashed is an Austrian band zoning in on a cross between golden era Metallica, thrashier Slayer, Exodus and Testament. There's a little bit of hard-won mainland European hardcore to the vocals of Gunther Wirth as well, adding a cool dimension to the band's sound. Production is solid, the playing is tight, and there are enough good songs here to make this retro thing work. 'Next Victim' really changes things up, adding a cool Sentenced-like relief to the constant jackhammered slam of the thing, while 'Disgrace Erased' sports a hilariously fresh yet complicated and tuneful riff, not to mention a chummy beer-drinking vocal like Tank meets the other Unleashed. 'Warzone' is just as intelligent, the band injecting a thimble-full of Maiden melody into a nimble construct. Oddly, this album's best songs are in the middle, and not at the beginning, so dig right in - that's where this band begins to break away and present a myriad of catchy, cool, speed metal ideas not without a trace of the Finns and Viking or folk metal on offer in terms of mournfulness. Slight drop in grade due to a detectable synthetic ProTool-ness.
The Song Remains The Same (Swan Song/Atlantic)
Out at the same time as the pointless Mothership best of pack (well, the point is to sell a lot of CDs, and for label fanboys to manufacture collectibles for fun at the same time), is this The Song Remains The Same reissue. Now, this was always known as a bad live album, as well as the soundtrack to an even worse movie. Its bloat was one reason punk happened. Something happened on the way to 2007 though. One is that techies have figured out a way to make this thing sound way better, more visceral, more like the work of one of the world's greatest power trios (three instruments and a singer-style) and not an impersonal, muddy stadium gig. Second, Zeppelin saturation is only level orange these days rather than level red, meaning that 28 years after their demise, they're only in the top six or seven most discussed and radio-played bands on the planet instead of the top... one. And the reason I mention that, is that, somehow, the band is sounding a little more inspired than I remember as a frowned listening to the vinyl - and maybe that has something to do with me and the world being amenable and ready for some live Zeppelin. Sure, Plant is already ducking notes only six, seven years into his career, but he's still got panache on his side. And then Page is sending out sheets of devil-derived electricity, while Bonham and Jones funk it up in confident lock-step, unsurprising, they being two of the top three musicians in the entire band. Third and most important, six more tracks have been added to presentation. 'Black Dog' is raw and full of holes but OK, but 'Over The Hills And Far Away' contains some odd and cool Page noodling, 'Misty Mountain Hop' is groovy as hell, and 'The Ocean' is simply the shortest, heaviest, most obscure addition. But you know what? The best thing about The Song Remains The Same is still essentially unchanged from the original, and that's the mere presence of 'Celebration Day' one of the great unsung Zep classics, which Page slyly sashays into after a crushing, cruising 'Rock And Roll'. It's all the long crap I couldn't - and still can't - stand, not to mention the fact that the long crap is attached to songs way too over-exposed (I swear, this is the main reason there are so many Zeppelin-haters out there). OK, closing up shop now: fact is, this is still the main official Zeppelin live album, so we gotta accept it warts and all (into the lexicon of 20th century art no less, just like Back In Black, hard to friggin' believe). But sounding this boisterous, there really aren't that many warts. Boot experts will tell you it's not a great Zeppelin gig, but they don't exactly call it an unmitigated disaster either.