Leatherwolf Leatherwolf (LW001) 1984

1. Spiter (3:49)
2. Endangered Species (5:16)
3. Tonight's the Night (3:35)
4. The Hook (3:58)
5. Season of the Witch (3:49)
6. Off the Track (3:45)
7. Kill and Kill Again (4:20)
8. Vagrant (2:49)
9. Leatherwolf (4:11)
10. Alone in the Night (3:35)

Leatherwolf are an American heavy metal band out of California whose sound is built around the highly touted "triple axe attack". Leatherwolf's excellent self-titled debut is heavy, but melodic and never short on hooks. They combine the hooks that much of the early 80's California metal bands were known for with a British heavy metal flare.  The music itself is also slightly progressive, not unlike early Fates Warning or Crimson Glory. The triple axe attack is dynamic and no where more apparent than in the bands eponymous titled song that finishes out side two of the record. Tying the wall of guitars together are the charismatic, smooth and aggressive vocals of Michael Oliveri. Leatherwolf's debut is a brilliant mix of traditional heavy metal and melodic polish. This is American heavy metal at it's finest. Unfortunately for the band, they are one of the best kept secrets of the heavy metal underground. 

Because of the confusion due to having two self-titled albums in a row, this album is typically known as "Leatherwolf 1". In some countries the album was titled "Endangered Species". My particular CD copy was released by the band independently and contains the bonus track "Alone in the Night". 

Leatherwolf Leatherwolf (Leatherwolf) 1987

1. Rise or Fall (6:26)
2. The Calling (4:03)
3. Share a Dream (4:34)
4. Cry Out (5:04)
5. Gypsies and Thieves (4:41)
6. Bad Moon Rising (2:39)
7. Princess of Love (3:22)
8. Magical Eyes (3:04)
9. Rule the Night (4:36)
10. The Hook [live] (4:32)

Originally released in 1987 on Island Records, Leatherwolf's second eponymous titled album is affectionately known as "Leatherwolf II" by many fans. Musically Leatherwolf are traditional heavy metal, along the lines of Crimson Glory, Judas Priest and Armored Saint, with the commercial appeal of Dokken or Skid Row. Leatherwolf were known as a three guitar army band, and balanced on the edge of heavy and melodic. Their guitar harmonies are an intregal part of the sound as is Olivieri’s slightly gruff vocals. On this album they did have some slightly more commercial material and incorporated quite a bit of keyboards. "Princess Of Love" and the power ballad "Share A Dream" have a heavy amount of piano and string synthesizer layering. However, they mix it with heavy riffs, once again balancing the sound and never completely going into pop terrain. It's interesting in that the sound on these songs remind me of a lot of the European power metal bands that came out some ten years after this release. Other songs are pure heavy metal. Songs like "Gypsies and Thieves" and "Princess Of Love" have a slight gothic sound, not unlike classic Dio or even the previously mentioned Crimson Glory. "Bad Moon Rising" is a chugging heavy metal cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival. The album ends with "Rule the Night", a straight-forward, up-tempo heavy metal number.

The 2002 CD reissue also contains a bonus track, a live version of "The Hook", a track off the band's debut.

Street Ready Leatherwolf - Street Ready (Island) 1989

1. "Wicked Ways" (6:03)
2. "Street Ready" (3:05)
3. "Hideaway" (3:56)
4. "Take A Chance" (3:10)
5. "Black Knight" (2:58)
6. "Thunder" (3:47)
7. "The Way I Feel" (4:54)
8. "Too Much" (3:34)
9. "Lonely Road" (3:44)
10. "Spirits In The Wind" (5:05)

Leatherwolf were heavy metal. Forget all the sub-genres and labels. Leatherwolf cranked ou high quality, straight forward heavy metal. "Street Ready" is a tad more commercial than the band's two preceeding albums, but radio rock this is not. "Street Ready" features strong vocals, fantastic guitar work and catchy, memorable tuned. This is especially true of the song "Thunder". Having three excellent guitar players in the same band is an interesting concept as each of the guitarist seem to try to outdo the next. Gotta love some healthy competition to bring out the best in a musician. It's a shame that this quality has disappeared in modern hard music.

World Asylum Leatherwolf - World Asylum (Massacre Records) 2006

1.      I Am The Law (3:34)
2.      King Of The Ward (4:11)
3.      Behind The Gun (4:56)
4.      Live Or Die (4:17)
5.      Disconnect (4:21)
6.      Dr. Wicked (Rx O.D.) (5:12)
7.      Institutions (4:20)
8.      Derailed         (3:12)
9.      The Grail (6:38)
10.     Never Again (5:29)

"World Asylum" marked the return of classic heavy metal legends Leatherwolf, only this time with a new singer in Wade Black (Crimson Glory, Seven Witches). The band's last album "Street Ready" (1989) was a mostly melodic heavy metal album. The triple guitar attack was the band's characteristic sound and helped give them their epic sound, together with some pomp melodies. With "World Asylum" the band adopts a heavier, classic power metal sound. Songs like "I Am the Law" and "Live or Die" are straight forward, heavy, in-your-face, power metal. (Think Eidolon, Metal Church, Meliah Rage, etc.) Other tracks like the melodic "Behind The Gun" and "Dr. Wicked" fall closer to the classic Leatherwolf sound. However, the overall recording and production has a definite 90's sound. Basically what they have succeeded in doing is taking a more contemporary sound and marrying it to the classic Leatherwolf style.

Guitarists Geoff Gayer and Eric Haltern (Helstar, Destiny's End) lay down some choice chops, but it's heavier and more raw sounding than the classic Leatherwolf sound. The songs are heavy as a steamroller, mostly well structured and somewhat catchy. New vocalist Wade Black does a fantastic job replacing Michael Oliveri, though his style and tone is quite different. I personally don't think that is a bad thing, though I suppose the band thought different. "World Asylum" was later re-released under the name "New World Asylum" with Oliveri back at the helm, re-recording all the vocals.

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