Review by Carl “DJ ThunderGod” Pickles
Let’s get something straight before we start, shall we? Power Metal, as a subgenre is totally and utterly ridiculous. That has to be a given. Soaring guitars, soaring vocals, bludgeoning drums played at a speed you’d expect from bands classed as being much heavier… Some bands, like DragonForce, take that to extremes. Other bands, like HammerFall and Sabaton play it straight down the line and create some truly anthemic stuff.
Then there is a German outfit by the name of Powerwolf. They use twisted, blasphemous religious imagery, cross-pollinated with werewolf mythology, corpse paint and monks robes as costumes. The formula should be a recipe for disaster, but it works when it really, really should be an absolute train wreck. It doesn’t exactly hurt the German band’s cause that Attila Dorn’s voice is a truly stunning instrument. There is absolutely no way to mistake this man’s pipes for anyone else’s. Incredibly charismatic and powerful in a subgenre where many vocalists go for range rather than power, he works in a similar register to Sabaton’s Joakim Broden. Then there’s the keyboards. The best keyboard players use their instruments to add colour to the proceedings. That’s another thing that helps this insane formula work so well. Falk Maria Schlegel’s sepulchral cathedral organ matches perfectly.
Right from the off, these guys are not messing about. The opening track (which also happens to be the title track), Blessed & Possessed has “anthem” stamped through it like a stick of Blackpool rock. The momentum gained from that one takes you barrelling straight into a pummelling Dead Until Dark, before slamming down another anthem in Army Of The Night. This one has “live favourite” stamped all over it.
That takes us into the first single, Armata Strigoi, (which you’ve probably just watched above) with its staccato riff and yet another masterclass from Dorn, beautifully supported by Schlegel… and so it goes on. If your foot isn’t at least tapping, or your head nodding by this point, you really are deficient in some major way. Other honourable mentions have to go to Sanctus Dominus, Higher Than Heaven, We Are The Wild, Sacramental Sister… sod it… I’ve just realized I’m typing out the titles of the entire remaining running order. ALL the tracks on this one really hit the spot in a pretty major way. There is truly not one single track you could even think of as being “filler”.
On Blessed & Possessed, Powerwolf absolutely nail the formula. They’ve got close on previous albums, most notably on the mighty Bible Of The Beast, but for this one there is not one single misstep throughout the entire album. This is absolute perfection. It’s an incredible piece of work. The pace only really drops on the final track, Let There Be Night, but that just allows Attila to really flex his vocal cords. The man sings out of his skin on that one, and when matched with an exquisite solo from Matthew Greywolf… well, it’s not often I can be said to be lost for words, but hearing this song for the first time was one of those occasions.
Make no mistake. Powerwolf have thrown down the gauntlet and staked their claim for Album Of The Year for 2015. This one is absolutely awesome. What’s more, if you get the limited edition version, you get a CD of cover versions, including this one:
No hesitation at all with a rating of..