REVIEW: POWERWOLF – “The Sacrament Of Sin”
Its about that time again – when the fans of bombastic, over the top, and ridiculous heavy metal literally rejoice at the thought of a new Powerwolf album. Perhaps one of the most consistent bands out there, since their inception in 2003, the band has put out a new release every two years – and their seventh full length album is no exception. The Sacrament of Sin is set to release in July of 2018; with a lot of the pre-order packages already sold out – the heavy metal congregation has proven it was ready for the latest Powerwolf Mass.
If you are unfamiliar with Powerwolf and cannot tell by the make-up, album artwork, costumes, song titles, etc. this German five-piece knows how to deliver heavy, theatrical, and sometimes downright silly metal complete with a church organ, howling wolves, and blood-curdling screams. Despite previous releases boasting song titles such as “Resurrection by Erection” and “Catholic in the Morning, Satanist at Night” some people confuse the band for being a ‘Christian band’. They’ve also been snubbed by the more uptight metal fans saying they are cringey for trying to be taken seriously looking like ‘homeless men in King Diamond’s melted makeup’. The band has released nothing but relentlessly dark and heavy albums, putting out some of the best heavy metal to come out of our generation, but their live shows have gained a bit more notoriety as being a truly fantastic experience (that North Americans have yet to have on our soil… more bitterness on that later).
“Demons Are a Girl’s Best Friend” is the second track on the album, but the first single released for ‘The Sacrament of Sin’. I intentionally avoided the single until I had access to the whole album after the clips I saw from the music video made me cringe. I have to say, the song was better than I expected, and features a great melody driven by a church organ and distorted guitar, with lyrics about sending nuns over the edge with evil thoughts of all the fun they could have if they left their church-life behind. The song is probably one of the most pop/rock-like songs the band has ever released, which isn’t really a bad thing, but because of this it is in my opinion one of the weaker tracks on the album. I also think the video looks more like a Victoria’s Secret commercial-gone-wild, but I am sure the male dominated metal fan base has no complaints there.
A couple of the highlights of the album are “Killers with the Cross” and “Nightside of Siberia” which are probably what fans of their older albums would expect of the band. A bit gritty and dark, but very galloping guitar-riff driven, with huge choruses that stick with you long after the song ends. “Nightside of Siberia” in particular features a killer guitar solo, and great songwriting all around; the transition into the bridge of the song is phenomenally done. Blast this tune in a great stereo or get your best set of headphones, close your eyes, and really experience the details of this song. It’s a great homage to the band’s older sound.
Most of the album is awesome, although played safe, and sounds exactly like – well… – what I would expect a new Powerwolf album to sound like! “Fire and Forgive”, “The Sacrament of Sin”, and “Fist by Fist (Sacralize or Strike)” feel like direct afterthoughts from the band’s previous album, ‘Blessed and Possessed’. The album does feature some surprises like the ballad “Where the Wild Wolves Have Gone” which reads and sounds like what you’d expect from a band like Sonata Arctica – not Powerwolf. It took a few listens for this song to grow on me, but I feel like they pulled of the new style quite well. But if this doesn’t excite your inner metal-loving demons, the following track, “Stossgebet” really snaps the album right back into the dark and heavy vibes we’ve all grown to love.
But don’t stop reading just yet, because the best is yet to come. “Incense & Iron”, the fourth track on the album, is probably one of my favorite songs that the band has ever released. While yes, it does have a huge Sabaton vibe (and to no one’s surprise – I am a huge Sabaton fan) Joakim and his chorus of Swedes can’t touch the vocal style of Attila Dorn – a true classically trained vocalist. I only wish the song was longer because I can’t help but put it on repeat a few times every time I hear it. The chorus is so infectious, I am whistling it around work and around the house, it just won’t leave me alone! If the sexy-nun single didn’t work for you, just wait and give this track a shot – it may be just what you need.
All in all, ‘The Sacrament of Sin’ is exactly what you would expect of Powerwolf, and in no way is that a bad thing. The band hasn’t been selling out huge theaters and playing massive metal festivals all around the world because they make sub-par metal, right? There are some great surprises on this record that bring the band back to their grittier roots (and since their best albums are their first two, this is great news to me). They set out promising to give fans amazing music and an even better live show, and they really are delivering more and more with each release and tour. As an American fan of this band, I can only hope that this release will finally bring the band to North American soil – but I don’t have high hopes. At least I have seven great albums to listen to until that day finally comes!