LEATHERWOLF, The Darker My Horizon @Iron Road, Evesham 31/08/2017

The triple axe attack is back

Even allowing for the cliché about never judging a book by its cover and all of that, it is easy to get the wrong idea about The Darker My Horizon. A glance at frontman Paul Stead would, perhaps bring to mind a kind of biker rock band, MV faves The Almighty, perhaps? Not a bit of it. Instead, TDMH deal in melodic rock with a bit of a crunch. “No Superhero PT 1” is an early highlight, “Perfect” has echoes of FM and “Afraid” brings with it some fine harmonies. These are perhaps indicative of the musicianship on show here. The band, with new drummer Ollie Jones, in fine form, are moving forward. Not just with brand spanking fresh material like “Sleaze” but also with line up changes too. Long standing bass man Max Notaro is to depart, and his will clearly be big shoes to fill if material like “Dear Olivia” is anything to go by. Their own songs – Paradise” and the closing “OK” which is better than that name suggests – are well crafted and polished fun, and even if their rocked up cover of “Summer Of 69” doesn’t quite match up, the future is bright for The Darker My Horizon.

You don’t call your band Leatherwolf and boast about your triple axe attack, if you aren’t ready to bring the metal. The LA five piece are here, and with all their axes in their hands to boot, and are ready to do just that.

In common with a lot of their 80s brethren, the music business chewed them up, spit them out and left them with just two original members, drummer Dean Roberts (their only constant throughout all the incarnations) and singer Michael Olivieri, but conversely now they are essentially just playing for the love of it, they have never sounded better.

There is an appropriate rumble to “Thunder” and the title track of their breakthrough “Street Ready” album sounds as fresh today as when it came out getting on for 30 years ago. Olivieri jokes about that time – although you suspect it has a hint of truth: “the record company said we owed them $500,000, we’ve still got $490, 000 to go….!”

Triers they may be, but Leatherwolf are brilliant at it. “Gypsies And Thieves” boasts a mean bass groove and an even better solo, while “Seasons Of The Witch” has more than a hint of Queensryche  about it.

There is a hint of danger about them too, never mind the smiles and the chatting with fans after, “Alone In The Night” slashes with intent, while “The Calling” and “Wicked Ways” run into each other superbly well and show the talent these five have.

No encore, as if to emphasise that the rock star days are behind them. This is about band – and fans – having a good time. Make no mistake though, they’re still on the prowl and they’re still hell bent for leather. The years may come and go, but thankfully some things never change.