Live Review : Wolf + Primitai + Shrapnel @ Academy 3, Manchester on March 24th 2019

As we can all personally attest a week is a bloody long time in politics, it also transpire to be long and knackering time in Metal. I easily had the choice of two reviewable shows every single night this week and in reality I managed to attend a neck-aching four gigs, which at my age feels very much too much of a good thing. Therefore the fact that the Academy 3 is deserted comes as no surprise. The pockets of mancunian metalheads are only so deep and after an absolute smorgasbord of metallic goodies on offer this week (as well as HRH in North Wles) something is going to give and sadly it is Wolf and their rather fine undercard that have got the shitty end of the stick.

Shrapnel are professional enough not to let the fact that barely anyone is watching put them off their stride. They may be from Norfolk but their brand of very 80’s thrash metal is straight out of the bay area, with potentially more modern aggressive vocals. They may not have a crowd to speak off but they certainly have attitude and confidence. Vocalist Jae Hadley has formidable presence and looms over the barrier reminding the crowd that the song is for us and it is about killing people, backing off slightly when he realises he is about to scare off the 15 or so people who are making the front row (in fact the only row). Lead guitarist Nathan Sadd shreds away, ripping solos while the rest of the band jump, swirl and generally look like they are having a whale of time with their high tempo and high energy war obsessed tracks. The fact that a band going for ten years (as they happily tell us) but still seem to be having so much fun is gratifying, even if there is nobody here to tell the tale.

 

Primitai are very much classic heavy rock with a particular USP of having two lead guitarists who alternate the honours during the solos and trade licks with each other all the way through. This results in their sound being deep, rich and very melodic, there is some metal here but mostly this is sumptuous heavy blues. ‘Power Surge sees lead guitarists Srdjan and Serge playing in harmony building a wonderfully layered lush sound that invites you to dive right in, whilst vocalist Guys push himself to the limit of his vocal range. Less in your face than ShrapnelPrimitai just drip quality I just wish there were more blooming people here.  

 

Wolf having been doing this for nearly twenty five years, so a scantly attended Sunday in Manchester is not going to phase them. From the off they are excellent, throwing out the same signature brand of Heavy Power Metal that they have mastered in for all their career. This is heavier and faster and less flamboyant than the more flowery Power Metal of say Kamelot, it has real bite and its nearest comparison is probably early eighties Judas Priest. The sound is excellent, crystal clear enough to allow us to enjoy the myriad of complicated time changes and the band are as tight as a pair of skinny jeans after a wrong wash. As I may have already mentioned there are not many in, but those who are here raise their voices with gusto and bang their heads with real appreciation. As I have said before the UK may have a smaller Power Metal contingent than other countries but we are no less enthusiastic. ‘Voodoo evokes a mass sing along even though we are told to sing and grab our own balls at the same time, something that proves difficult for us multi-tasking phobic males. Wolf may have been the victim of a flooded market but they are utterly excellent tonight, they leave us with a tantalising spoiler that they plan to return in the Autumn on the back of their new album, make sure you are there.

 Words by Stewart Lucas
Photography by Johann Wierzbicki