Album Releases Album Reviews

Powerwolf – Blessed & Possessed Review

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Released by: Napalm Records

Release Date: July 17th, 2015

Genre: Power Metal

Links: powerwolf.net

 

Line Up:

Attila Dorn – Vocals

Matthew Greywolf – Guitar

Charles Greywolf – Guitar

Falk Maria Schlegel – Organ

Roel van Helden – Drums

 

Tracklist:

1. Blessed & Possessed

2. Dead Until Dark

3. Army of the Night

4. Armata Strigoi

5. We Are the Wild

6. Higher Than Heaven

7. Christ & Combat

8. Sanctus Dominus

9. Sacramental Sister

10. All You Can Bleed

11. Let There Be Night

 

One thing’s for sure: Powerwolf knows what their fans want, and they’re certainly willing and able to deliver it time and time again. Ever since their incredible third album Bible of the Beast, these Germans have stuck to a specific formula, using elements of classic German power metal as their base, and adding their own unique flavor with the use of church organs and the epic vocals of Attila Dorn, to go with their always fun lyrics, which mix together werewolves, vampires and religion in imaginative ways. Over the course of three albums the band has perfected this formula, with each album making minor refinements to the same basic template. Going into their sixth and latest full length release, Blessed & Possessed, I was expecting more of the same, and that’s pretty much what I got. Thankfully in this case, more of the same is exactly what I was hoping for, and as always the wolves have unleashed a collection of incredibly addictive songs that are sure to please their existing fans, and to my ears this is possibly their best release to date.

Like with previous Powerwolf releases, Blessed & Possessed is pure power metal the whole way through, dominated by epic vocal melodies and killer riffs, and enhanced by their unique use of church organs in the place of keyboards, which adds a special sense of atmosphere to the music. Songs are mostly short, straight-forward, and filled with one epic hook after another, giving way to some truly fantastic choruses as always. I found that Preachers of the Night increased the tempo a lot more compared to its predecessors, and if anything this is even more true this time, as aside from three slower songs, the pace is often very fast and furious throughout, just as power metal should be. While some tracks bear strong similarities to previous Powerwolf songs, I find the performances all around are even stronger than ever, and it all sounds so energetic, that it was easy for me to forget the similarities and just become hopelessly addicted (it should be noted that the rather short 45 minute playing time allows for constant repeat listens, another recurring theme for the band..)

As always, Attila Dorn remains one of the best power metal singers in the world. There’s not much I can say about him that I haven’t before, but his distinct voice and the way he can so fluidly mix powerful metal vocals with epic classical vocals is truly amazing, and he’s always such a joy to listen to. His performance on this album is impressive, varied and as full of passion as always, and of course the vocal melodies once again give him plenty of chances to shine on every song. He honestly may be my favorite in the genre at this point, he’s that good.

At this point, it’s safe to say Powerwolf fans should know exactly what to expect from their album openers, and sure enough that’s exactly what Blessed & Possessed brings with its title track. Attila opens the album with an epic, extended chant, then all the instruments slowly kick in and from there the track takes off, sounding similar to the likes of “Sanctified With Dynamite” and “Amen & Attack”, and it manages to be every bit as impressive. A few tracks feel similar to previous tracks, but in most cases I find these newer tracks add that something extra that makes them even better. For example, the second track “Dead Until Dark” has an eerily similar melody to “Son of a Wolf” during its chorus, except that it’s played at a much quicker tempo, especially during the verses which sound closer to typical German power metal than the band often comes. Likewise, the closing track “Let There Be Night” is a slower track enhanced by orchestral elements, and it feels similar to “Last of the Living Dead”, except with a much a fuller, more epic sound, and with almost a full minute more of actual music, before the expected fade out to end the album. One more similar sounding track is the mid tempo track “We Are the Wild”, which sounds very similar to “Sacred & Wild”, though in this case I find the songs to be equally enjoyable.

Out of the remaining songs, my favorite is “Higher Than Heaven”, a song which accomplishes a lot during its short running time, making effective uses of tempo changes, constantly mixing up fast and mid tempo passages in a very fluid way, resulting in a song that stays fresh and exciting throughout, and it has quickly become one of my very favorite Powerwolf songs to date. The most unique song on the album is “Sacramental Sister”, a song that starts out slowly, with an awesome openin g where the guitar tone sounds similar to classic Iron Maiden, and the track remains rather subdued but heavy throughout, until it suddenly picks up the pace towards the end and becomes another instant highlight. I’ve noticed slight similarities to Swedish band Sabaton in their music from time to time, and this is very noticeable on the tracks “Army of the Night” and “Christ & Combat”, though as always the church organ helps separate them from any other band.

Over the past few years, Powerwolf has proven that sometimes sticking to a specific sound and refining it from album can be very effective, and Blessed & Possessed is yet another fantastic album, where every song is instantly engaging likely to stick with me for a very long time. Fans of the band are sure to be pleased once again, while fans of epic power metal who have yet to hear the band are highly recommended to check this out, as it should make as great a starting point as any of their other albums starting with Bible of the Beast. Those unimpressed by previous releases aren’t likely to change their minds, but in this case that’s not a problem, because it’s clear the band is happy appealing to a specific crowd, and with albums as good as this and their previous three, I certainly can’t blame them for not wanting to make drastic changes.

 

Written by: Travis Green

 

Ratings: Travis 10/10

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