Choose your own POWERWOLF review adventure: If you’re already a fan of POWERWOLF, read only the next paragraph. If you’re not a fan or not familiar with them, skip it and read the rest of the review. Blessed & Possessed, out now on Napalm Records, is an easy sell to pre-existing fans of the band, but is also highly recommended for anyone looking to get into the band that hasn’t already.
POWERWOLF fans: You know what to expect here. Here’s another album much in the vein of Preachers of the Night, another 11-track album even having almost exactly the same song lengths as its predecessor. Unlike Preachers, however, it keeps the quality going past the halfway mark, and you will love this one if you’ve liked anything else they’ve put out. The same lyrical drinking game for the phrases “Hallelujah”, “Ave Maria”, and Latin words that rhyme with “mongoose”, applies here. Get it so you can know what to sing along the next time they tour and add another slew of high-energy POWERWOLF classics to your playlist.
Non-POWERWOLF fans: In a world where people making unnecessarily grandiose opening sentences to metal reviews, POWERWOLF exists to be similarly grandiose, and at times, yes, unnecessary. I was introduced to the band with 2013’s Preachers of the Night, which I found to have a handful of incredibly engaging songs followed by a largely underwhelming remainder. Despite this, I do consider myself a fan. I often describe POWERWOLF as a band in a similar vein to SABATON but replacing the military imagery with that of a more religious and occult theme.
Vocalist Attila Dorn continues to be a major draw for the band; rather than a singer who uses operatic elements, he’s simply an opera singer in a metal band, and his command of simple but catchy hooks makes every song on the album worth listening to. The keyboard playing stands out a bit more on this one, and the songs overall seem to be a bit faster and heavier on average. Despite “We Are the Wild” sounding uncomfortably similar to “Sacred & Wild” from the previous album, it’s still a great song, and that means that the first six songs on the album are a straight run of excellent fist-pumping, crowd-chanting jams. However, while not exactly bad, by the time one gets to “Christ and Combat”, the lack of variety on the album may start to wear on you.
However this is rectified by the stomping, massive “Sanctus Dominus”, which manages to be one of the heaviest tunes on the disc while having a verse that reminds me of…well, ABBA. Not that I don’t love some ABBA, and if this sounds like something that would turn you off, you’re probably not in the POWERWOLF target audience anyway. It, along with songs like “Armata Strigoi” are instrumentally a bit more well-rounded than previous hits like “Amen and Attack”, which relied mostly on its powerful and catchy vocal patterns, and hints at a progression taking place, however incremental. It took until the very end of writing this review for me, but “Let There Be Night” grew on me quite suddenly as a track that builds and releases multiple times over its nearly five-minute length (the last couple of minutes are just ambient noises), but is best listened to on its own to avoid fatigue.
Overall, if you gripe about metal being too “cheesy” or are rendered incapable of enjoying great hooks by somewhat formulaic and repetitive writing, Blessed & Possessed is not the album for you. For everyone else, it’s a collection of songs that won’t soon leave your head, and that will have you combing the Internet for POWERWOLF tour dates in your area. It may not progress much from the band’s traditional formula, but most will agree that it didn’t need to.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Dead Until Dawn”, “Army of the Night”, “Armata Strigoi”, “Sanctus Dominus”, “Let There Be Night”