This year I finally get to see Powerwolf live – and I’m having to travel to Sweden to do it. With their frustrating habit of playing a single UK date on each “tour” (and it’s always bloody London) I’ve never yet had a chance to see them. Which is a shame as I bloody love them.
So in preparation I had to get myself familiar with their newest material. The Sacrament of Sin is on the cusp of release and they will of course be playing some of the tracks off it live this summer. As I’ve mentioned in previous Powerwolf reviews, you kind of know what to expect from them. There’s a Powerwolf sound and they really don’t take any risks or cross boundaries. To some, this may make them a little formulaic. However, when you’ve got the formula for turning base heavy metal into gold, you don’t mess with it.
Sacrament opens with “Fire & Forgive” which is as good a song as they’ve ever written. A driving rhythm, those huge guitars, a cathedral-like scale of sound, lyrics that belt around the inside of your head… honestly, it couldn’t be any better. If they go the brave step of opening live shows with a new song then this is a great one to go with. Powerwolf have that gothic overtone nailed down in a way that you’d expect a band like Ghost to, given the latter band’s imagery.
The title track is an absolute stormer, a whirling dervish of sheer power metal joy. Furious pace with little breathers for the eldsters like me before pummelling the senses again. And then there’s “Nightside of Siberia” which simply crushes all before it. And “Venom of Venus” which begs to be sung along to with fists punching the air. And “Incense & Iron”. And “Demons are a Girl’s Best Friend”. And… OK, you get the idea.
If there are uncharted waters on this album, it’s with “Where The Wild Wolves Have Gone”. In the grand scheme of genres this is a power ballad with some Bon Jovi-esque guitar solos… but by the wolves of Hell themselves, it works. I can even see it being a good live song. I can’t even see it annoying purists as it is pure Powerwolf, just a side of them we’ve not seen or heard before. Now, I’d not recommend that they all rush out and buy acoustic guitars for the next album, but this ballad rocks colei.
In all honesty I’ve found Powerwolf’s previous albums to often have one, maybe two tracks which just don’t hit the heights of the rest of the record. They’re good, but… lacking. I can honestly say that The Sacrament of Sin is the strongest album from the band I’ve heard in some time. From “Fire & Forgive” to “Fist By Fist”, every song is just top notch. No filler.
The Sacrament of Sin is out on July 20th