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Lycanthro – Mark of the Wolf

Lycanthro
Mark of the Wolf
by Gary Hernandez at 23 July 2021, 1:42 PM

On June 4, 2021, Power Metal Canadians, LYCANTHRO, released their first full-length album, “Mark of the Wolf” on Alone Records. Originally formed as DEATH WISH in 2014, they transformed to LYCANTHRO (ah, see how I did that?) in 2016 and released their self-titled, four-track demo in 2017. Three of those songs are reborn on “Mark of the Wolf.” Not surprisingly, the band has been through several lineup changes, mostly on the rhythm section front. No shocking news there—life happens to us all.

“Mark of the Wolf” has been in the works since 2018, but as noted above, life happens. And while the wait may have been long, the outcome was worth it. The thing about having this album incubate so long is the positive impact it seems to have had on the quality of songwriting, musicianship, and production. It doesn’t take a sound engineer or music critic to listen to the band’s demo and then this album and notice the evolution. Through whatever means, this is a band that has improved over time.

LYCANTHRO hearkens back to NWBHM lyrically as well as sonically. Thematically, it’s all the epic content you’d expect from a Power Metal band—literary and gaming references, witches, werewolves, dragons, and even fungal zombies. There’s also the obligatory bow to the pantheon of metal gods with “In Metal We Trust,” which is chockfull of subtle and not so subtle references to all the greats. All of the above is rendered with soaring clean vocals, monster thrash-infused riffs, and Prog sensibilities with choirs, piano flourishes, and acoustic interludes. Pretty much a little something for everyone except maybe Black Metal enthusiasts. Sorry, no hint of tremolo here.

Aptly recorded at Wolf Lake Studios in Lac-des-Loups, Quebec—essentially a cabin in the woods—the album spans eight tracks and just over 43 minutes. Standout tracks are many. Personally, I favor the title-track “Mark of the Wolf” for its killer riffage and surprising harmonies; “In Metal We Trust” because it’s such a hails and horns song that all metal heads will be able to relate to; “Into Oblivion,” probably the meanest, thrashiest track on the album with a bass solo that is just nasty, nasty, nasty, and then the breakdown and then the lead solo; and “Ride the Dragon” because it’s so damned inspiring—technically, it’s about riding dragons and is inspired by Skyrim; metaphorically, it’s about rising above the challenges of life, the universe, and everything. It’s also reminiscent of TRIUMPH (another Canadian great) in its buoyant optimism and killer lead solos.

With a name like LYCANTHRO I was expecting a Black Metal hellscape with faux lycanthropy rituals. I was pleasantly surprised when I listened through the album for the first time, and the second, and the third, and fourth . . . you get the idea. This is an album that bears repeating. For a band named after literal monsters, it’s uplifting and stirring. So Canadian, right? LYCANTHRO is a refreshing band; “Mark of the Wolf” is an impressive album.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1.  Crucible
2.  Fallen Angels Prayer
3.  Mark of the Wolf
4.  Enchantress
5.  In Metal We Trust
6.  Into Oblivion
7.  Ride the Dragon
8.  Evangelion
Lineup:
James Delbridge – Guitars, vocals
Forest Dussault – Guitars
Nathan Shuman – Drums
David Shute – Guitars
Carlo Cote – Bass
Record Label: Alone Records
     


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Edited 21 September 2021
 

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