The cover sticker claims this an “amazing melodic metal all-star project” and then goes on to boast “current or former members of Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest” etc. There’s truth in advertising, even if members of said bands are Paul Di’Anno, Tony Martin and Tim Ripper Owens, among some 20 other musicians. By all definitions, “Wolfpakk” should be a clusterfuck of a project, a self-serving MP3 swap with the many guest stars’ individual styles trampling over the proceedings from song to song.

It isn’t. Because at its core, Wolfpakk is a partnership between Michael Voss and Mark Sweeney, like-minded power metal classicists. The guest collaborators – no matter how bright their star-wattage – don’t interfere with what this self-titled disc is, namely the type of melodic power metal that has always played so well in Europe. Think Helloween with less of an edge. Think Stryper with more of an edge — and more intricate songwriting.

If the above comparisons sound like a slam, they aren’t meant to be. At least not completely. There’s some highly listenable stuff here. “Lost” is the type of semi-technical metal that I can listen to every day and it contains an absolutely appropriate (and semi-operatic) vocal spot by Michaela Schober, probably the only guest from outside the world of metal. (Her musical worlds are theater and opera).

Of those we are more familiar with, both Paul Shortino and Di’Anno sound ragged but right in their brief spots, with Di’Anno getting the edge by virtue of appearing on “The Crow,” one of the disc’s more memorable cuts.

Jeff Scott Soto gets little more than a pre-chorus refrain on “Let Me Die,” which also includes a pretty ridiculous battle cry spoken word recitation. A song title like “Reptile’s Kiss” pretty much tells you it’s going to be filler. Thankfully redemption arrives at the end of the disc with the 10 minute “Wolfony,” which not only features Owens in his usual awesome form but might be the best cut on the disc. In concept, “Wolfpakk” probably shouldn’t work. Kudos to Sweeney and Voss that it does.

(AFM Records)