After over 30 years in the business, the german has done it all, and never looked back as the sound of his band kept evolving with 12 records released between 1988 and 2009, only stopping after the release of “Magnified”. Four years later and here we are, with “Outlier” the new KINGDOM COME record.
First things first: EVERYTHING on the album was done by Lenny Wolf himself, over an 18 months period, in his own studio. Therefore the man is singer, guitarist, drummer, bass player, engineer and producer. Eighteen months almost look like a short time to do all of this by himself given the herculean feeling of the task.
As for the result… this album keeps me puzzled. We are in front of a unique and very original mix of pure 80s styled hard rock and industrial rock with smooth keyboards and effects. The beginning of “Rough Ride Rallye” for example, with over 1 minute of almost EBM like techno had me checking if I was listening to the right record. And not only that, the opening of “God Does Not Sing Our Song” or “When The Colors Break The Grey”, which ends “Outlier”, are the perfect intricacy of two genres which are supposed to be enemies but become passionate and melancholic lovers, who know their own limits but do everything they can with what they have (seriously, the chorus of the last track has to be one of the greatest ever, hasn’t it ?)
Wolf’s voice still has its “Robert Plant” like sonority but still maintains its own feeling, unique and impressive, with a soft and almost tender melancholia in it, dripping with nostalgia yet never sad. He’s very powerful and emotional in every word he sings, and that can be felt in “Holy Curtain” or “Don’t Want You To Wait”, two other great songs. Every chorus (well almost all of them) gets in your head immediately and forces you to headbang or tap your foot.
On a musical level, it’s clearly not the most technical album ever but every note has its own importance here, you don’t have anything unnecessary, meaning that you get the essence of what hard rock is all about. The riff from “Don’t Want You To Wait” is the simplest riff ever done, but it fits perfectly, the drum parts on “God Does Not Sing Our Song” are here to prove that you don’t have to play 2500 blast beats every second to be absolutely amazing. And that’s the constant on every song form the album, everything is right where it belongs, the soft keyboard parts on “Running High Distortion” or the small choir from “When The Colors Break The Grey” are the best illustration of that feeling.
But everything is not perfect here and the two simple songs that are “Let The Silence Talk” and “Skip The Cover And Feel” are atrociously mediocre: the first is repetitive and gets in your head way too long, while the latter left me with such an inexistent impression that I had to check it on its own several times to be able to talk about… As for “Such A Shame”, while it has a great chorus, it’s an average song that bring nothing to the album.
“Outlier” is definitely an ambitious and unique record, a true piece of art, reflection of the DIY mentality of its creator. Complex and versatile, it is necessary to listen to it several times to really get it and understand it (to be honest my first description of the album was “pompous, pedant and useless”). And that’s the only real problem from this record, you will either adore it and claim it’s the best album ever our you won’t, and you’ll be facing a distorted hybrid that will sometimes get your attention.
And that’s the issue with such a review… I can’t honestly rate it, given how fluctuating my impressions are… All I can say is that you MUST listen to the latest record from Lenny “KINGDOM COME” Wolf to get your own opinion, and who knows, maybe you’ll find all you need in there, but it’s always worth the trip I can tell you that.
My personal favorites: “God Does Not Sing Our Song”, “Don’t Want You To Wait”, “When Colors Break The Grey”