Powerwolf - The Sacrament of Sin

Genre: Power Metal

Here is Powerwolf, once more repeating a formula they’ve since long adapted, and which can only be called theirs. With the blend of cheeky old school power metal and (early) Sabaton-esque fleshiness, tossed with the sacramental wine that are their tongue in cheek lyrics. The Sacrament of Sin is their seventh full length, and their first not to come within two years of its predecessor. Does this mean Powerwolf have invested that extra year in developing their sound and hitting new lengths of delivering the metal mass to the, well, masses? Nope. Not even a little. With Powerwolf, you get Powerwolf, and that’s honestly mostly good enough. Opening track Fire & Forgive is ridiculous and while tossing in a freshly squeezed idea or two is nothing new to Powerwolf, but by Attila Dorn’s beard, when that “we bring fire, sing fire, scream fire and forgive!” hits you will be converted.

Powerwolf - The Sacrament of Sin

The downside of the album is that it remains fairly shallow, with short songs and themes that don’t go deeper than a few deftly written verses. In this respect, they have not matched Lupus Dei (2007) - and likely never will - which had all that tongue in cheek lightheartedness while being almost sinister in darkness at times. The Sacrament of Sin instead follows that profitable track of high powered anthemic power metal with the explosive choruses that came on subsequent albums (and they do those damn well, mind you). They do step outside the already trodden path atimes and weave in different influences on The Sacrament Of Sin, while deftly incorporating the Powerwolf style born on the Bible Of The Beast (2009) album and developed further since. Lead single Demons Are A Girl’s Best Friend has poppy undertones and is mostly wholly lead by Falk Maria Schlegel’s keys and organs to set a light mood. Killers With The Cross then seems almost old school heavy metal in comparison with cheeky riffs from the Greywolf “brothers”.

After the first four tracks, we come to Where the Wild Wolves Have Gone. This is an over the top cheesy semi ballad. That stuff has never been Powerwolf’s thing, and still isn’t - that just fails in about every aspect. The melodies are over the top, it’s too slow and never engages. Then comes Stossgebet, a mid album track with little to remember; wholly forgettable. This is, however, not unexpected. Every Powerwolf album so far has had a quality dip in the middle. Unfortunately, most have risen higher towards the end, delivering some of the finest moments on their respective albums (*cough* Night of the Werewolves *cough*), and while the album certainly rises with Nightside of Siberia and the title track and certainly gives plenty of fun power metal antics toward the latter half, it fails to come back to the initial dynamite that is Fire & Forgive and the following three tracks (which mostly is just an indication of the quality of those four songs).

Still, despite all this griping, The Sacrament Of Sin is an over the top love affair with the ridiculous stylings that Powerwolf have become so known for. The sound remains theirs, and except for the ballad and Stossgebet, every song has its own little twist to keep you entertained. While the Greywolfs never really get to shine there are still some incredibly festive guitar antics to be found, like the intro solo on the title track or the obvious fun as fuck riffing on Killers With the Cross. The guys are having fun and it shows, and even with the lesser tracks you still get higher than average quality power metal. Dorn’s vocals are as massive as ever, his impressive range shining strong on several tracks, from the epics of Fire & Forgive to the subdued mysticism of Nightside of Siberia, while the orchestral style of Schlegel’s keys keep feeling fresh and unique within the genre, even when taking the foreground. The Sacrament of Sin isn’t their best effort, but it matches what we’ve come to expect from Powerwolf since the past five or so years.

 

Standout tracks: Fire & Forgive, Demons are a Girl’s Best Friend, Killers With the Cross

 

    

 

Musikvideo: Powerwolf - Demons are a Girl’s Best Friend

Entering Polaris - Godseed

Genre: Power Metal, Progressive Metal

Entering Polaris is just one half of a two part project; the melodic progressive power half to contrast In Motion’s progressive thrash/death part. While the latter is yet to be released, Entering Polaris has hit the soundwaves, but to little notice - if any. Behind the scenes are guitarist and bassist Tom Tas and drummer Vincent van Kerckhove. Both projects are run by the same two people, saying all the different ideas could not possibly contain themselves within one single band name, and they both advertise themselves as being the band with all the cool singers. Be that as it may, Entering Polaris still has too many singers - and too many ideas - on too short a runtime. Lance King (ex- Pyramaze, ex- Balance Of Power) and Fabio Lione (Angra, ex- Rhapsody) help take the album to higher highs, while Björn Strid (Soilwork) seems out of place on the opening track. On the flip side, Therion vocalist Thomas Vikström gets at least one too many songs on his own, and while his style and intonation fit the tunes - give him fewer, or give him all. This is not his best work.

Entering Polaris - Godseed

With this, their debut in the melodic progpower style, Entering Polaris deliver scattered bits and pieces of greatness, but much is held back by the compact fittings. Short songs that try to fit way too many vocalists in a single go, while some feature only the one. It suffers at times from a generic feel that seems hard to overcome, but still is briskly blown away on standout tracks that seem to slap away all doubts that it could be done. Lione adds that cheesy loftiness that only he can bring, but coupling him with more serious styled vocalists keeps it simpler, and works to great effects on distinctly proggy The Field Of Ghosts, likely the greatest track on the album alongside Paradise Reclaimed, a great power metal romper featuring Georg Neuhauser bringing his signature Serenity charisma - and a short, but heavy as all hell growl part delivered by Sindre Nedland (In Vain).

There are some truly interesting ideas, sadly contained in songs that never really get to grab a hold of you in their short runtime. Flightless has a super neat saxophone solo (courtesy of Gregg Rosetti (Suspyre)) to go along with a groovy prog vibe on Tas’s bass lines, but the song just ebbs out before it climaxes. The guitars, uplifting and melodic throughout are some of the best parts of the music. Be it the swift cheesiness lifted from Paradise Reclaimed, or the AOR styled fittings of Clear Skies, guitarist and bandleader Tas has worked the guitar parts out well and they drive the music thoroughly setting the tone for the songs. Then add to that the scattered pieces that reconnect to the death parts of Tas’ influences that give the album some well needed contrasts. So it’s not an instant love story, and it’s far from great, but with some truly inspired ideas that would have done well to be let lose, and Godseed is certainly an interesting listen, likely for fans of both power metal and prog metal alike.

 

Standout tracks: Godspeed, Paradise Reclaimed, The Field Of Ghosts

 

    

 

Lyrikvideo: Entering Polaris - Paradise Reclaimedl

We Are Sentinels - We Are Sentinels

Genre: Soundtrack-musik

We Are Sentinels is a twist in the Matt Barlow narrative; taking the man away from his metal grounds alongside Pyramaze keyboardist Jonah Weingarten. It’s an entirely keyboard built project, with some atmospheric percussions to fill the sound. While far from metal, it has metal trademarks in its sound and structures, but also brings it’s own unique touch care of Weingarten’s soundscape. But if you’re in this for the metal, you will be disappointed. The album never delivers your average verse-verse-chorus build (Holy Diver cover excluded), but gathers from a proggy ground that would rather lend itself to a bigger universe, not confined to what is presented here. Weingarten constantly takes interesting turns and twists, and his touch remains as immaculate as ever, perhaps stronger than before (though a fleshy lead guitar to accompany him really does him good). Add to that a soundscape bigger in every way; more grandiose with the fitting backing choirs, more epic thanks to a versatile songwriting style that focuses both on the emotional tinge of Barlow’s voice and innate dramatic tinge that so well fit Weingarten’s style, as well as the movie big sounding soundtrack style that the latter brings in everything.

We Are Sentinels - We Are Sentinels

Fans of Pyramaze will instantly find recognizable ground, which really goes to show just how important Weingarten is to their sound. In much, this entire project is a continuation on how masterfully those four minutes that comprised Legacy In A Rhyme caught on, with its beauty. A big part of the album is the so called Winter trilogy; Kingdom In Winter, Dreaming In Winter and Battle In Winter, a twelve minute suite that probably does better when it’s not in the middle of the scorching hot summer (southern hemisphere readers can disregard the last part), which has some peaks in the first and last part, but the second is a little snooze fest that brings some of the most cringy lyrics on the album, which is sadly more prevalent than one would wish; instead of drawing big, huge scenes, Barlow is sometimes lent to lyrics like “I feel so blessed” and other cringe fests. Sure, this isn’t a metal album and the lyrics needn’t be offensive or badass, but the storytelling on album highlight Sirens Of Odysseus, about the Greek hero succumbing to the sirens, shows what could have been.

Covering classic Holy Diver is an interesting choice - while also being totally given, being as it’s likely the billionth cover of the song at this point. It brings a new style and sound to the classic metal track. It also showcases some of the weaknesses of the original material, which at times is too slow and to centered around what it was created as. With Holy Diver the boys have a metallic frame of reference and they stick to it, but the remainder of the music is written as is, while much of it could have benefitted from being written first as metal songs and then worked into a We Are Sentinels style. Because the cover is a good one, and utilizes more of Barlow’s range in the layered vocals scattered throughout, that would have done really well on much of the other material. It’s an interesting listen. Not something you’ll play non-stop, but a cool concept that ends up slightly underwhelming. A little like Tuomas Holopainen’s solo album, you know, the one about Uncle Scrooge? But with way fewer ducks.

 

Standout tracks: From My Tower, Sirens Of Odysseus, Soul On Fire

 

    

 

Lyrikvideo: We Are Sentinels - Soul On Fire