“Never Say Die”

By Colonel Angus

I remember a friend of mine playing “Wig Wamania” back when it first came out and while I thought it was good, there was nothing original about it.  I also had a very long “discussion” with him that WIG WAM is one of the dumbest band names but when I put my marketing hat on, it is pretty good in that it is memorable; still a silly name but easy to market.  After that initial foray into the world of WIG WAM, I left the band and their albums off my radar.  Well fast forward to 2021 and here I am having to review the latest from this Norwegian group.  When I review a disk, I literally shut the world out and listen to the record from start to finish to make sure that outside forces don’t color my review.  It’s only fair and it has opened my eyes to a lot of great music out there.  When I listened to “Never Say Die” for the first time (I have played the album many times now), I was extremely surprised at how much I liked it.  I immediately replayed the whole thing just to make sure that my surprise wouldn’t wear off and it keeps getting better with each additional listen. 

Since I haven’t been a longtime fan, I can’t compare “Never Say Die” to previous albums but what I can tell you is that this whole (and I mean whole) record is full of well crafted, melodic metal tunes.  Right off the bat, the title track hits you with its heavy riffing and soaring vocals but before you know it, that track is over and then you’re hit with the swagger of “Hypnotized”.  That song has a great 80s feel by incorporating a catchy chorus that breaks up the verses nicely and Trond Holter offers up a nice guitar solo; one of many on this release.  “Where Does It Hurt” starts off with some dirty guitar riffs but like many of the tracks, it has a catchy chorus that keeps you humming the tunes for days.  “Dirty Little Secret” and “Call Of The Wild” follow the same formula with heavy riffing and then hooking the listener with the choruses.  There are a few slower or softer moments on “Never Say Die” as well.  “Kilimanjaro”, “My Kaleidoscope Ark” and album closer “Silver Lining” all provide a nice break from the heavier onslaught of songs and while I generally don’t like ballads, these are all good tunes.  In fact, “Silver Lining” has some great guitar solo work and even though it ends the record, I never skip over it.  Even the instrumental “Northbound” keeps me captivated even though I tend to like songs with lyrics.  As mentioned previously, “Never Say Die” is full of well crafted tunes played with conviction and passion and not a dull moment throughout.

For those of you that are new to WIG WAM, they are a four piece with some monikers that I could do without but when it comes to talent, these guys have it in truckloads.  Åge Sten Nilsen has a great voice and his performance throughout the record is perfect.  Trond Holter not only provides the heavy and melodic riffs, he is responsible for all the memorable solos on this album.  Bernt Jansen and Øystein Andersen keep things heavy with their solid rhythm playing do a great a job of not “overplaying” their parts and just laying down that heavy foundation of the tracks.  They all sound like they are having a great time recording “Never Say Die” and it filters through into the tracks.  I might have to go back to “Wig Wamania” to see if I didn’t give the band a fair shot back then but my opinion of the band has drastically changed with “Never Say Die”.  Still don’t like the band name but when the music is this good, who cares?