Powerwolf - Blood of the saints 4/5

Reviewed: 1-1-12





Tracklist:

1. Opening: Agnus dei
2. Sanctified with dynamite
3. We drink your blood
4. Murder at midnight
5. All we need is blood
6. Dead boys don’t cry
7. Son of a wolf
8. Night of the werewolves
9. Phantom of the funeral
10. Die, die, crucified
11. Ira sancti (When the saints are going wild)


When I first heard German/Romanian power metal band Powerwolf a few years ago, I wasn’t overly impressed. Noticing the silly song titles, lyrics and the corpse paint they wear, I just couldn’t take these guys seriously, like the first time I heard and saw Finnish hard rock/metal band Lordi. For the record I have since come to enjoy Lordi’s music. Powerwolf’s music on their first few releases was hardly worth writing home about, but recently with their previous release ‘Bible of the beast’, I noticed some great changes in their songwriting and was anticipating something even better with their next CD.

Well that moment has arrived with the Wolves releasing their latest CD entitled ‘Blood of the saints’, and boy what an improvement these guys have made in such a short time. When it comes to Powerwolf, what you see (and hear) is what you get, simple as that. Lyrics containing stories about Romanian mythology, werewolves, dark ideologies and religious tales (in an ironic sense) is these guys’ bread and butter and great fodder for European power metal as well. Unique Romanian vocalist Attila Dorn (also one of the best metal names around) is the X Factor on this CD and he has improved considerably over the last few years, particularly on his delivery, while he also sounds much more confident with his diverse range. Lastly, his thick Romanian accent just totally kicks ass, particularly when the song titles are about Romanian mythology and werewolves.

Musically there are also dramatic improvements from the previous 2 CDs, where you could honestly say that some of the tracks on those releases were filler material; here on ‘Blood of the saints’, every song is quite consistent, catchy and memorable. I don’t know if I had lower expectations before listening to the new CD or not, but I was more than pleasantly surprised with the output from the dark wolves, especially the crushing guitar riffs, drum beats and the catchy song structures; all of which have improved tenfold. And the staple instrument at Powerwolf’s disposal, the pipe organ adds further depth, diversity and realism; like the band were preaching from the church of hell.

Overall, the songs flow far more smoothly than before, a true power metal style, rather than the chop and change style I was used to hearing from Powerwolf. The guitar chords have much more grunt and conviction in them, while the endless wild riffs and thundering hooks really caught me off guard. I feel that Powerwolf have slightly done less of the theatrics, the tongue-in-cheek stuff, and more just straight to the point. No messing around here on ‘Blood of the saints’, which I think is best for all involved, after all the “gimmick” can wear off just as quick as it started.

After the intro we are introduced to the dynamic “Sanctified with dynamite”. A choir and organ begins the song, followed by furious pounding on the snare drum, then the main kick-ass riff blows in and takes your head off. Very catchy, “Sanctified with dynamite” has many sing-a-long parts and is easily one of the best tracks on the CD. “We drink your blood” is a slower paced song than the previous, quite melodic and catchy yet again. The chorus is memorable, with choirs soaring high; with Attila leading the charge with his powerful vocals. “Die, die, crucified” reminds me a little of Hammerfall, with the choirs and melody, while the lyrics and sing-a-long parts are reminiscent of Lordi. The marching drumming is impressive, and despite the simplicity of the track it’s more of a fun song than anything else and would be a fantastic track to perform live and get the crowd into it.

“All we need is blood” begins like an evil church sermon, with the pipe organ in full flight and Gregorian-esque style chanting booming loud before a shout from Attila and the main thundering riff kick in. Another melodic and catchy track, “All we need is blood” is yet another standout track on the CD. Other excellent tracks on ‘Blood of the saints’ include the exceptional “Murder at midnight”, while the mid-paced melodic “Son of a wolf” is also a track that will receive plenty of spins among the others. My only gripe of this disc has to be the length, which comes to an unfortunate halt at just under 42 minutes. Luckily, however, if you are able to purchase the limited edition version of the CD, then you will be in luck as it comes with a bonus disc called ‘The sacrilege symphony (And still the orchestra prays)’. On the disc contains orchestral versions of 5 Powerwolf tracks and it was arranged by Russian film score composer Dominic G. Joutsen, who has previously worked with Portuguese gothic metal band, Heavenwood.

So my question is, if the previous Powerwolf releases have made you want to run with the wolves and howl at the full moon, then ‘Blood of the saints’ is the CD for you. I believe that this latest quest from the dark wolves is easily their most consistent to date and, in my opinion, their best release to date as well. There’s a lot here to like about this CD, and I urge you to track this one down before the wolves are at your door.



SEAN




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