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Powerwolf – Blessed And Possessed Review

Band: Powerwolf
Album: Blessed And Possessed
Label: Napalm Records
Genre: Power Metal
Country: Germany
Release Date: July 17th 2015
Blessed And Possessed Image

Anyone who’s even slightly familiar with the German power metal outfit Powerwolf, by now knows what to expect from a new release. They’re not exactly known for their ever-changing sound. It’s again more of Attila’s (amazing) operatic vocals, keyboards and fast paced riffs dominating their sound and even more choruses that are just catchy as hell. You’ll be humming them along on your second listen, whether it’s voluntary or not, trust me. And then all of this is topped with the usual lyrics about werewolves, religion and a whole lot of ‘hallelujah’s’.

It’s the same formula they’ve been using for a while now. And that’s why Powerwolf is one of those bands, just like Primordial, Amon Amarth or Sabaton, that must endure the same dull criticism with every release. There’s always people who claim that it’s “again more of the same” and that it “all sounds too similar”. And yes, that is true. But then I think to myself: “what do those people actually expect?” For a band to suddenly abandon or change the sound they’ve mastered over the years? Why would they? If they really wanted to do so, sure. Many bands have done so before, for better or worse. But the formula works and they’re unique in the genre. Why some people seem to think that a band has to change their sound or incorporate new elements with every release… I don’t get that. If it was really enjoyable before, then “more of the same” sounds good to me.

Powerwolf consists of Attila Dorn who provides the vocals, Charles and Matthew Greywolf on bass and guitar respectively, Falk Maria Schlegel on keyboard and Roel van Helden behind the drumkit. Blessed And Possessed is Powerwolf’s sixth studio album already and like I said, they still do what they do best. And that’s making high quality and highly addictive power metal. When the first song begins, you know you’re in for a treat. The album opens with this grandiloquent Latin verse, accompanied by haunting keyboards that, as usual, sound similar to church organs. This immediately sets the mood for fans and newcomers alike. And you’re already preparing yourself for another epic journey through the night with the werewolves that are Powerwolf.

In comparison to their previous release, “Preachers Of The Night”, I’d say they play slightly faster overall on this new album. Which only works in their advantage. It makes the entire album more engaging. Slightly less theatrical and more straight up metal, but still very much Powerwolf. The first half of this album is really just one great track after another. It’s on tracks like Army Of The Night, Higher Than Heaven or the more mid-tempo We Are The Wild we hear Powerwolf at their best. I can already hear an entire audience sing that chorus of We Are The Wild along, and that’s exactly what they were going for. Because Powerwolf was made to entertain live, but as they prove time and time again, they’re just as impressive on their records. They’ve truly managed to create an atmosphere, again, on this new record that’s nothing less than astonishing. They sound so grand at times, so bombastic it’s truly unlike any other band.

But the album isn’t flawless either. While the first half is entertaining throughout, the second half has some minor flaws. Christ And Combat for example is nothing special. It feels like they were simply trying a little too hard on this one. Pushing every instrument’s speed to the limit, and then a sudden tempo change with what feels like a forced sing-along cramped in there. It’s not very convincing. And Sanctus Dominus, apart from a decent solo, is quite forgettable overall. And maybe that’s Powerwolf’s only weak spot: When they’re good, but don’t amaze, it somehow feels disappointing. But that does say a lot about the consistency of this band.

The biggest letdown however, is probably the last song, ‘Let There Be Night’. Which starts out really promising, with the keyboards getting all the attention, and Attila who displays one of his best vocal performances ever. You brace yourself for what’s still to come. To instead find out that after 4 minutes of what seemed to be a buildup to one epic conclusion, you get another 3 minutes of rain and howling wolves. And while that’s certainly fitting, it’s also a bit of a shame. Simply unsatisfying. It’s not creative nor interesting. On an album like this, you’d really expect them to go out with a bang.

But Blessed And Possessed is overall an extremely enjoyable album that will most likely end up on many people’s ‘best of 2015’ list. With more than enough highlights to be able to overlook its minor flaws, Blessed And Possessed is another impressive release that adds up nicely with the rest of Powerwolf’s discography.

Rating: 8/10

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

Total Playing Time: 45:50

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