SHEWOLF – SHEWOLF
Label: Frontiers Music srl
Author: Mike Smith
01. The One You Feed
02. Welcome To The Pack
03. Lone Wolf
06. Safe In The Dark
07. Nothing Is Forever
08. My Prayer
09. The Thrill Of The Chase
10. Falling Without You
SHEWOLF is a new band signed to the Frontiers record label, featuring Angel Chatzitheodorou or Angel Wolf-Black (as she’s more commonly known) on vocals and four masked musicians, described by Frontiers as her “Unknown Wolves” and consisting of “The Hunter” (guitars), “The Predator” (bass) and “The Alpha” (drums). Angel herself also has a theatrical name, she’s called “The Shaman“.
Frontiers lists the band under the “Power Metal” genre and describes the band’s music as follows: “Combining a mixture of symphonic elements, folk vibes, and heavy/power metal riffing, SHEWOLF’s music stands out for its superb personality and bombastic impact.” They also state that the album has been produced by Michele Guaitoli (Visions Of Atlantis, Temperance) and Marco Pastorino (Temperance, Virtual Symmetry, Even Flow).
Angel hails from Greece and is no stranger to the symphonic metal world. You can read her full bio on her website, but a few of the highlights of her career so far are: in 2009 she released her first full-length album “Always Forever” with her former metal band Bare Infinity, followed by the EP “The Passage” in 2011. She’s been a regular with the Vivaldi Metal Project since 2016 when she recorded “The Illusion Of Eternity“ for their debut album “The Four Seasons“. In 2018 she was featured in Alexandra Zerner‘s double album “Opus 1880“ as lead guest singer and toured in Finland, Bulgaria and Italy with Vivaldi Metal Project. She has also collaborated with several great artists and charity organizations, including Mark Boals and Mistheria (Rome 2016), Aherusia (2016), Milcho Leviev (2013), Rock In Dio (2014/2015), and “Make-A-Wish Greece” (2015). In 2014 she started her own YouTube channel, “Angel Wolf-Black Covers“, and has recorded and produced many amazing vocal covers of bands with amazing singers like Within Temptation, Nightwish, Epica and many others. I watched some of her covers videos and was very impressed, especially with her covers of Within Temptation! She absolutely nails Sharon‘s notes while still sounding like herself on very difficult songs like “Forgiven“, “Faster“ and others!The real jewel of this album is most certainly Angel and her incredible and beautiful voice! As much as I hate to admit it, I wasn’t familiar with her until I heard about SHEWOLF a few months ago. When I finally did listen to her, what struck me right away (besides the fact that she sounds amazing) is that her voice reminds me of someone, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on who it was. Eventually I realized it was Celine Dion. Now I’m not saying she sounds exactly like Celine, but in my opinion she does have a similar timbre and range. I might even go as far as to dub her “The Celine Dion Of Metal”!
Before I get to the songs, let me just get a couple things out of the way right up front. Number one, I am not a big fan of bands wearing masks. As you may remember, I am a musician myself (a drummer) and I suppose that’s partly why I Iike to know who the musicians are. In fact I hate not knowing! It’s kinda cool at first, the mystery and mystique of it, but that wears off quickly for me and I will closely examine pictures and videos and then scour the internet trying to figure out who the musicans are! I haven’t had time to do too much of that yet with SHEWOLF, but I did find on Michele Guaitoli‘s Facebook Artist page where he says: “I had the honor and pleasure to write and produce the upcoming album of @shewolf.band together with my partner in crime @marcopastorinoofficial .” So apparently they not only produced the album, but also wrote the entire album together. I’m sure I’ll find some time to do some more digging eventually.
Another thing I’m not a big fan of is bands that are put together by record labels. There are very few exceptions to that rule. To me a real band is some musicians who got together, developed a chemistry together, became friends, and wrote some great songs together. I do understand that there is some benefit to getting great song writers and great musicians together and seeing what comes out of it. In my opinion though, most of the time it just lacks any real depth and the songs end up sounding like something you’ve heard many times before. With that being said, I did see something stating that the band was “added to the label’s roster“, which seems to indicate that the band was already formed before the label became aware of them. I looked but couldn’t find any information about exactly how the band was formed. Whatever the case, I’m excited to find out for myself what it sounds like, so lets dive in!
“The One You Feed“ kicks things off with a beautiful flute melody which continues shortly after the song kicks into gear and then returns several times throughout the song. It’s a mid-paced track that alternates between double and single bass drumming. It has a huge chorus that will have you singing right along in no time. It’s also got a really nice guitar solo as do most of the songs.
Track 2, “Welcome To The Pack“, is a faster paced song which jumps right in with some fast double-bass drums and symphonic keyboards, but then quickly switches things up by dropping the volume on the keys and slowing things down a bit sounding more like an all out metal assault. It also has a huge chorus which I’ve found is very characteristic for all their songs. Angel sounds incredible! Crystal clear and really powerful! A really nice melodic dueling guitar solo about midway turns into a “shredder” and then Angel lets out a fantastic scream that would wake the dead and the song ends. Magnificent!
Number 3, “Lone Wolf“, was the first song released with a video back in late January and wow has this song really grown on me! Once again, Angel sounds amazing! It charges right out of the gate with the super fast double-bass drums “power metal assault” and continues through the first verse, then slows down a bit for the chorus. And what a chorus it is! Absolutely infectious! I can’t get it out of my head! The music stops abruptly around the middle and a beautiful flute melody starts to play, but it’s not long and we’re right back into it. This song does have a guitar solo but it’s short and sweet. The song ends with another amazing scream from Angel and then a short piano outro. This is the longest track on the album and the only song over 5 minutes. Really fantastic!
“Home“ is up next and it too has a video which was released on February 24th. It starts off a little slower with a nice piano intro, but then quickly takes it up a notch and turns into a fairly uptempo rocker! Another really strong song with a super catchy “sing along” chorus! Also has a really cool guitar solo. This is the shortest song on the album clocking in at just over three and a half minutes.
Track 5 “Moonbound“ is another high energy song filled with plenty of double-bass drums, but also has a really nice symphonic element and some really powerful and haunting vocals and harmonies from Angel! Another killer guitar solo, several time changes and even a really cool oriental vocal melody! Another terrific song!
“Safe In The Dark“ fills the spot for track 6. This one starts out heavy but then slows things down a little and really gives Angel a chance to shine! Spectacular vocals and harmonies! It also has two really beautiful soaring guitar solos! This is a very big epic sounding song! Absolutely Incredible!
With track 7 “Nothing Is Forever“ we have the ballad… and what a ballad it is! It starts off with a beautiful piano intro and Angel giving Celine Dion a run for her money! She sounds simply magestic! We hear nothing but Angel‘s amazing voice accompanied by the piano and then some string sounds for 3 minutes before the instruments finally come in and immediately we get an amazing guitar solo! Angel has just become one of my favorite singers right after Rossella Moscatello of False Memories, Sharon den Adel from Within Temptation, Anette Johansson with Zhiva and Giorgia Colleluori with IT’sALIE! Simply Fabulous!
“My Prayer“ at number 8 continues the vocal athletics and takes things to the next level! A short piano intro makes me think we’re in for another ballad, but that doesn’t last long at all and suddenly the wall of sound goes up and we’re off to the races again full speed ahead! This is the loudest, heaviest “prayer” I’ve ever heard! There’s an awesome guitar solo and before you know it the song’s over and I’m left with my jaw on the floor! I think it’s gonna take a few more listens before I realize the full magnitude of that song! Very nice!
Track 9 “The Thrill Of The Chase“ is another power metal “Tour De Force” that starts off like a battering ram with an explosion of double-bass drums that, when cranked up to the proper volume level, will suck the air from your lungs! That combined with the Medieval bagpipes gives it a really cool folky power metal sound. Things slow down briefly during the first verse and Angel‘s vocals take center stage once again. A glass shattering scream from Angel bleeds into a smoking guitar solo and then they bring it down for a brief interlude with the Medieval bagpipes and then they ride out hard and fast with one final chorus.
The album closes things out with “Falling Without You“ which starts out with Angel singing beautifully by herself with only the strings and piano, then gradually builds into an epic power ballad style chorus. But this song is definitely not a power ballad. During the verses the pace picks up and takes on a more metallic vibe.
In conclusion: SHEWOLF really surprised and impressed me! I’m not a big fan of power metal but they mix things up enough to make it really interesting and much more than that! Yes, they also have some folk and symphonic elements, but really this is simply just a great record! No doubt you’ve heard the expression “All Killer No Filler”. This album definitely fits that description! The band sounds fantastic! Especially the guitar player! I just wish I knew who they are! I do hope they’re permanent members with plans to play some live shows! Sonically it sounds incredible! Michele Guaitoli and Marco Pastorino have really outdone themselves with this one!
I’m not sure yet what I think of the whole Shaman and Wolf image. Even many of the lyrics mention or make reference to wolves, the moon, the wild or the night sky. I don’t know who wrote the lyrics or who came up with the concept, it doesn’t seem to line up with anything Angel has done before this unless I’m missing something. I’ve already mentioned I’m not a big fan of bands with masks, but I do think the videos are pretty cool and the image could lend itself well to an interesting live show if done right.
SHEWOLF really has a pretty unique sound, so I don’t know who to compare them to. I do hear some elements of Within Temptation but other than that I really don’t hear much of anyone else. That may be partly because I don’t listen to much power metal. Fans of metal with powerful female vocals with incredible range and beauty will certainly love this album! Fans of operatic style vocals may not. Fans of powerful epic metal with symphonic and folk elements and awesome guitar solos will also love SHEWOLF!
Frontiers is partly known for getting great songwriters and musicians from various parts of the world together to see what they can create, and for branching out and trying their hand with different music styles. And much of the time for me personally the results (although they’re always high quality and very well done) I don’t really find all that interesting. SHEWOLF is definitely an exception! Angel sounds amazing! Such an incredible range! Singing at times with great power and hitting notes that many can only dream of hitting, and other times with stunning beauty and elegance! This album is going to make a lot of people who may not have already been aware of just how incredible she is take notice! I count myself among them!