Powerwolf – Blessed & Possessed
Release Date: July 17, 2015
Since 2005, the German priests of heavy metal, Powerwolf, have been releasing bombastic, larger than life albums about sinister and amusing tales of werewolves, and the equally entertaining Catholic religion. Boasting a front-man who was classically trained in operatic singing, a haunting and twisted power metal style, and the ever important church organs, this five-piece knows how to make outstanding music that will make you smile from start to finish. From their debut album, Return in Bloodred until now, the band has matured to their sixth full length, Blessed & Possessed.
Kicking off the record in true Powerwolf style, a Latin chant and chilling orchestration explodes into the title track “Blessed & Possessed”. Within a few seconds it is obvious that this album promises a new level of heavy, driving metal thanks to the great drumming of Roel van Helden, pounding out a hard and heavy force that was sometimes lacking in previous material. The song as a whole, with the bone-chilling vocals of Attila Dorn soaring above beautiful orchestration, and great guitar and bass work, will strike at the heart of all heavy metal fans as one of the band’s fastest and heaviest songs to date.
Immediately following, “Dead Until Dark” features a throwback guitar melody reminiscent of “Son of a Wolf” from 2011’s Blood of the Saints. Yet another example of the ramped up tempo, driven by great drumming and guitar riffs, this song is relentless and catchy from the first few notes. The chorus is layered perfectly with chants that scream to be played live with thousands of fans screaming along. Continuing that trend, “Army of the Night” follows with an explosive high energy march-like feel, as if the band has been hanging out with Sabaton every day in the studio (but this is in no way a bad thing). Among my personal favorite tracks on the record, this song features fantastic guitar work provided by the Greywolf duo and perfectly arranged keyboard elements immediately following the solo.
The album isn’t all in your face speed, as it returns to the more mid-tempo style Powerwolf fans know so well with “We Are the Wild”. Featuring a catchy chorus, a short guitar solo, and moving keyboards elements from Falk Maria Schlegel, this track was the first fully expected moment on the album. “Christ & Combat” is yet another personal favorite as it tells a great story of the Christian Crusades in the early 1000’s AD. Although the Crusades are the most dark and metal moments in the church’s history, it is rarely discussed, so this heavy metal history lesson is truly appreciated. More importantly, this is yet another high energy, driving tune, featuring moving guitar leads and galloping bass from beginning to end, proving that this band has seriously grown up and matured over the years.
“Let There Be Night” is a nearly eight-minute-long song ending the record on a hauntingly beautiful note. A distant howl, string arrangements, and those beautiful vocals work their way into the only part of the track I can understand, the chorus. This is an absolute perfect end to a fast and in your face album, as the tempo slows and features every member of the band in their own light. My favorite moments lie in the guitar solo and the keyboard features, but the dark atmospheric touches that close the record on menacing wolf howls, lightning and thunder rolling, and the cries and lamentations of villagers are absolutely necessary.
In all honesty, as a hardcore Powerwolf fan girl, the band could likely release a carbon copy of any previous album and I would love it just the same. However, Blessed & Possessed was a surprising breath of fresh air with faster tempos, guitar riffing, and more intricate drum patterns that truly fit the band perfectly. I didn’t think I could love these guys any more than I did, but they may have proven me wrong with this release. This is a new, faster, and harder hitting Powerwolf, and they absolutely nailed it.