NIKLAS STALVIND of WOLF Discusses Their Latest Studio LP “Shadowland”, Heavy Metal’s Rebirth Following Their Formation In The Grunge-Dominated 90s, And How Changes In Lineup Has Helped To Evolve The Creation Process: “This Was The First Wolf Album That Felt Easy To Record Because Of The Musicians That Were Involved.”

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To the current generation, a music scene bereft of traditional heavy metal might seem a horror story from a bygone era, but for those who grew up in the 90s, it was an all too real experience. But while such an eventuality might seem hopeless and bleak, it was the same setting that saw the rise of an underground resistance, and Sweden’s Wolf was among the earliest purveyors of a return to the old ways at a time when it was far from fashionable. Originally going by the name Wolverine and supplementing their burgeoning repertoire of British and Scandinavian-influenced original metal material with popular rock covers in small venues, they would later become an early forerunner to what many now dub the New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal (NWOTHM) with the release of their seminal 200 eponymous debut.

The road over the past couple decades has been one of many twists and turns, with many musicians of varying levels of technical prowess cycling in and out of Wolf’s lineup. Nevertheless, their stylistic approach has been an exercise in consistency, with some interesting evolutionary quirks at the periphery to differentiate it from a total throwback to the early 80s primitivism that has become highly fashionable in both doom and epic heavy metal revivalist circles. Under the direction of founder and lone consistent member to the fold Niklas Stalvind, whom also provides lead vocals and guitar work alongside his writing expertise, Wolf’s sound expresses a highly unique synthesis of melodically-driven guitar work inspired by Iron Maiden, along with a deep and haunting atmospheric aesthetic highly reminiscent of Mercyful Fate, and a few progressive rock interludes here and there.

Indeed, ever since the mid-2000s and particularly with the release of their fourth studio album “The Black Flame”, Wolf has been a project that doesn’t shy away from augmenting the traditional style in a manner often employed by Dio during the latter years of said iconic band’s career. The odd timed quirkiness of “The Time Machine”, the fast-paced and occasionally Slayer-influenced haunting quality of “Dust”, the eclectic folk and older rock additives of “The Ill-Fated Mr. Mordrake” and the mystical heaviness of “Rasputin” are just a sample of the highly involved and unique direction that the band has opted to pursue on “Shadowland”, their 9th and latest studio effort. Bolstered by a highly experienced rhythm section and ornamented by an adventurous approach to song structure, it’s the sort of album that comes off as a grand virtuosic undertaking despite being built off an older and straightforward formula.

Despite being among the more ambitious efforts to come out of Wolf’s arsenal, the creation and recording process behind their most recent LP is recounted as the easiest in the band’s history according to its founder. Sonic Perspectives associate Jonathan Smith caught up with helmsman Niklas Stalvind to go over the process, particularly how the entry of Pontus Egberg and Johan Koleberg as the band’s new rhythm section helped to expedite the whole process, and also to reminisce upon the days when metal was considered a lost art and how Wolf helped to bring the genre back to a greater level of prominence even before the signs of an international revival were obvious

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