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Kilmara - Don't fear the wolf 3.5/5

Reviewed: 9-1-11


1. Inside the darkness
2. The dark inside - Don’t fear the wolf
3. Rock the night
4. All you need is pray
5. Blindfold
6. The dark inside - You better run
7. Vampire of love
8. Let sadness be destiny
9. You left without a reason
10. You won’t live forever
11. The deceit
12. The dark inside - Show me the way
13. Dakujem Castle

Spanish melodic/traditional heavy metal band Kilmara are relatively unknown at this current time, but are stopping at nothing to try to leave their unique footprint in the metal world. They were formed out of Barcelona in 2003, originally under the name Jadde and after releasing their very first demo, the band recruited vocalist Christian “Wolf” Kohl and soon with the help of his vision of direction, changed their name to Kilmara and released a 2nd demo in 2004. With the remainder of the band all native Spaniards, the German born Christian had to initially sing Kilmara’s songs in Spanish until they decided to expand their chances of success and popularity by switching from Spanish lyrics to English.

While the 3rd demo has songs in both Spanish and English, their debut CD ‘Hunting dreams’ was entirely written and sung in English to help establish an international market and improve their chances of being signed by a record label. Despite being self-produced, ‘Hunting dreams’ was a decent and consistent melodic metal debut. With influences ranging from the DiAnno-era Iron Maiden to Savatage, Kilmara’s debut effort was a strong performance despite having a few obvious flaws like any new metal band would. However, overall it was a strong, respectable and honest effort that was enough to leave some anticipation and curiosity for the next release. Kilmara received a welcomed boost, when Spanish label Maldito Records signed the band and their latest release ‘Don’t fear the wolf’ was locally released in May 2010. The initial reviews of the CD were positive and it also reached #20 in the Spanish metal/rock charts.

In November of 2010, Kilmara signed with U.K. label Rising Records who then re-released ‘Don’t fear the wolf’ worldwide in early 2011. There have been a few line-up changes between releases, with bassist Salvador Perez leaving the band in 2010. He was replaced by Jose Sebasstian, however he left just after a short period of time and was replaced by current bassist Jose “Johanson” Castillo. The remainder of Kilmara includes drummer Javier Morillo and guitarists John Portillo and Kike Torres.

For the recording and producing process for ‘Don’t fear the wolf’, Kilmara left Spain for Slovakia, to Grapow Studios to work with Roland Grapow (of Masterplan and Helloween fame) to put together a more powerful CD than its predecessor. In many ways, it excels over the previous; obviously the production is one of the main improvements, but overall the heaviness, catchiness and songwriting has improved quite a lot. Even vocalist Christian Kohl has improved in his techniques and delivery; which at times sounded inconsistent on the debut. The guitar riffs throughout the CD are far crisper, deeper and harder-edged than before (compliments to John and Kike), while the melodies are rather intricate and memorable; thus the songs which appear on the CD have also improved and are of a higher calibre and quality.

The first song highlights on ‘Don’t fear the wolf’ I would want to mention is the excellent “The dark inside” trilogy: “Don't fear the wolf” (impressive and groove riff laden), “You better run” (soulful and powerful mid-paced grinder) and “Show me the way” (speedy and bombastic riff-fest); all of which are stand out tracks. “Rock the night” is a pretty standard and straightforward track, reminiscent of 80s metal/rock that does get the head moving in approval; while “Blindfold” is a passionate and soaring semi-ballad (one of Christian’s best performance on the CD), that could easily be mistaken for Circle II Circle. The remainder of the CD has some great songs, such as the epic sounding “Let sadness be destiny”, the rockin’ “You won’t live forever” and the melodic and splendid “The deceit”.

In the end, Kilmara’s ‘Don’t fear the wolf’ is an excellent CD and the changes between this and their debut are immense; there has been a dramatic improvement across the board. Obviously having the CD professionally produced makes a world of difference, and with the master Roland Grapow holding the controls, Kilmara were always going to be in safe hands. The guitar driven style of the tracks really pack a punch and the sizable solos thrown into every song will satisfy even the biggest of air guitar aficionados... and I’m sure Grapow had a lot to do with that, being a guitarist himself.

Hopefully with this release, Kilmara will be able to make a name for themselves in the saturated metal market, especially in Europe and in their homeland of Spain. The consistency and hard work the band has put into this CD has definitely paid dividends and I was very surprised of the size of the jump in terms of quality when comparing the 2 CDs. Fans of melodic heavy/power metal should give this band a chance by tracking this one down as you should not be disappointed. This is a band on the rise and I shall follow them with much anticipation.




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