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Monday, July 20, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Bloody Christian tales from Powerwolf on Blessed and Possessed

FOR some time Powerwolf have had the 'power metal' title bestowed upon them, with perhaps their German roots contributing to what really is lazy reporting, because strip down their sound and it's just heavy metal, something the band have always been willing to point out.

And, given the pains some reporters go to trying to pigeon-hole bands it is refreshing to strip away the plethora of labels and review a heavy metal album.

That's not to say that their latest release 'Blessed and Possessed' is a straightforward piece of work, mainly because of its lyrical content.

Putting that aside for the moment, this is perhaps a more coherent piece of work than 'Preachers of the Night', which was a pretty solid release.

Gone are a lot of the frills and fancy tricks they have used in the past. This time round the Wolves (that's what they dub themselves) have produced a fine, well arranged and balanced metal album - check out the likes of 'Sacramental Sister' for evidence of sound construction of a song with excellent riffing and solos that are well pitched without drowning out the song.

Throughout the pacing of the tracks and a clear production, with excellent separation.

There are issues here. The Christian-inspired lyrics are overbearing, and some might find them off-putting, even thought the band are always keen to stress they are telling stories rather than preaching.

Kerry King always put forward a similar argument when asked about Angel of Death or Unit 731, but this is one-dimensional and the Latin lyrics on 'Sanctus Dominus' sound like a Sunday service/Mass set to a metal soundtrack...

That's not to say there is anything inherently wrong with telling a Christian themed story, but a lot of this Old Testament blood and gore....still at least there is some blood and gore.

The other niggle is that Attila Dorn's excellent performance once and a while verges a little close to Joakim of Sabaton's style to such an extent that on an initial listen we had to check the notes to make sure Joakim wasn't guesting.

Leaving these aside Blessed and Possessed is a fine piece of heavy metal. Shlegel's keyboards give an orchestral feel in places, without dominating the mix, while Mathew and Charles Greywolf give it the full axe attack, bolstered by van Helden's frantic drum lines.

Sure, in the past people have looked askance at Powerwolf, but rest assured for all their previous success this could be the album to elevate them to the next level - and it's not fucking power metal, it's heavy fucking metal! and the special edition comes with a selection of songs covered by Powerwolf from classic metal acts -enough said!

Blessed and Possessed is out now on Napalm Records

Review by Jonny

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