All in the Interpretation
The trouble with some heavy metal is it’s hard to know whether or not you should take it seriously. Take an act like Tenacious D. You know it’s Jack Black, and you know the content is supposed to be funny, but the care is so exquisite and the delivery is so intense that it also demands respect. While there is nothing inherently humorous about French classic-metal four-piece Lonewolf, the overall impression of their sixth studio album, The Fourth and Final Horseman, is one of uncertainty. If they’re serious, it’s laughable; if they are aware of themselves, then it’s seriously fun.
Everything about Horseman cries metal cliche, from the harmonized opening riff of the title track to screeching guitar accents throughout to singer Jens Borner’s “Frank Oz-esque” delivery. The riffs gallop along as Borner sings about armies in the seas and the end being near. “The Poison of Mankind” begins with light picking and it could be a reprieve from the noise until the silly vocals pop in, boding us to “fight the demon back to its lair.” In “Time of War,” we learn that the “brave live on eternally” against a melodic fist-pumping backdrop.
What makes Lonewolf easier to swallow, however, is the impressive guitar work. Even if the lyrics are pulled from Dungeons and Dragons fan fiction, lead axemaster Alex Hilbert clearly put real thought into his craft, and the Maiden-like orchestrations shine through. Beyond that, there isn’t much reason to listen beyond the first couple numbers. Borner isn’t about to lighten his delivery, even over softer bits like “Another Star Means Another Death,” so delving deeper into Horsemen isn’t going to reveal any gems. But if you enjoyed what you heard, you may as well keep going and keep enjoying. It’s likely that was Lonewolf’s intention after all — if this is your bag, dig it; if not, move on.