The werewolves from Saarbrücken are back for the eighth time to unleash power metal hell upon the world. Or something like that. We take a long, hard look at Powerwolf’s new album.
Having reviewed 2013’s Preachers of the Night, we gave its 2015 successor Blessed & Possessed a reviewing miss. Not that it was a bad album, but there is only so much you can say about a Powerwolf album before you start repeating yourself, after all. The German power metal band carries ever on, does their own sonically infectious thing and, not unlike the similarly both loved and reviled Swedish power metal mongers Sabaton, deliver exactly what you expect when they unleash a new album. This is one of the cheesiest, most dependable (and predictable) bands in the genre, but sometimes you just crave a simple cheese snack between three course meals. The Sacrament of Sin is one of those type of snacks.
A mere forty-three minutes in length, The Sacrament of Sin wastes no time getting to business with Fire & Forgive and the wonderfully daft Demons Are a Girl’s Best Friend, immediately showcasing what Powerwolf is still all about: naff lyrics inspired by the (primarily Catholic) church, a ridiculous amount of bombast and Falk Maria Schlegel layering his organ sounds on top of power metal so catchy that ABBA themselves couldn’t do it better. It borders on kitsch and parody, but there’s a tongue-in-cheek-ness in how earnest it all seems, proving that the band is, luckily, in on the joke. They run with the schtick and they get away with it because the band consists of capable musicians who are able to write proper songs.
That’s not to say that The Sacrament of Sin, is without its faults. There’s a lull in the middle where the band’s first real power ballad Where the Wild Wolves Have Gone is okay, but not much more than that, and is problematically followed by the quite uninspired Stossgebet. They might be two songs on a total of eleven, but the band is at their best when they produce fast and heavy hitters like Nightside of Siberia and Incense and Iron, interspersed with slower, more anthemic bits like Killers with the Cross. Two lacklustre songs in a row is quite lethal to the flow of an album, especially with that album has already been trimmed to an incredibly lean forty-three minutes, and I’d much preferred a shorter album with nothing but killer material.
That’s nitpicking, however, because the other nine songs range from pretty good to spectacular. Powerwolf know how to write killer hooks and riffs, know when to ham it up to eleven with the lyrics, imagery and the unrelenting organs, and Atilla Dorn can belt out any old nonsense and still makes it sound utterly believable. Production duties have changed from Fredrik Nordström to Jens Bogren, but you’ll hardly be able to hear the differences. The Sacrament of Sin sounds slightly more lush to me than its predecessor, but otherwise it’s par for the course for Powerwolf.
Fans of the the German werewolves will no doubt have bought this album yet, and whilst the band continues to grow in popularity, I’d be surprised if The Sacrament of Sin is able to convert any of the band’s detractors or draw in many new fans. Still, there is more than enough to enjoy here for the die hard fan and casual power metal enthusiast alike.
Label: Napalm Records, 2018
- Fire & Forgive (4:30)
- Demons Are a Girl’s Best Friend (3:38)
- Killers with the Cross (4:09)
- Incense and Iron (3:57)
- Where the Wild Wolves Have Gone (4:13)
- Stossgebet (3:53)
- Nightside of Siberia (3:53)
- The Sacrament of Sin (3:26)
- Venom of Venus (3:28)
- Nighttime Rebel (4:03)
- Fist by Fist (Sacralize or Strike) (3:32)
- Attila Dorn – vocals
- Matthew Greywolf – lead and rhythm guitar
- Charles Greywolf – lead and rhythm guitar, bass guitar
- Roel van Helden – drums, percussion
- Falk Maria Schlegel – organ, keyboards
Review by Ralph Plug