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

A Sound Of Thunder - It Was Metal

Genre: Heavy Metal, Power Metal

It Was Metal is a heavy as fuck album, in plenty of ways. And it might just be the best one so far by DC quartet A Sound Of Thunder. It is their seventh full length album in seven years (!), having released their unpolished debut Metal Renaissance in 2011 and hitting a high point in The Lesser Key Of Solomon in 2014. The last offering was a cover album, preceded by fairly generic Tales From The Deadside (2016). Now they seem to have hit their stride as It Was Metal hits most notes right, dealing furious guitar battling, rollicking riffage and flying solos with pinpoint accuracy and lots of cheesy fun along the way. One point where A Sound Of Thunder have always stood out is their storytelling. Every song is a story in its own right, be it based on comic books, occult myth or historic figures, and the lyrics portray the stories with depth, vocalist Nina Osegueda’s range and passion giving it the mood befitting the tone of the music.

A Sound Of Thunder - It Was Metal

Opening track Phantom Flight is a densely heavy duet between Osegueda and Accept frontman Mark Tornillo. a highlight on the album with its frantic rhythm play and the perfect match of the vocalists. Osegueda’s shrieks, closer in resemblance to older legends like Doro Pesch than her contemporary likes who would rather take their power metal in more symphonic routes, do well with the grittier, old school heavy style closer to that of Doro, Manowar, and the early heavy power outings of the 1980’s. Basically the only problem It Was Metal has is that it’s got a couple of filler songs, as well as putting the songs in the wrong order. The obvious way to start would be The Crossroads Deal, which in itself works as an intro to the title track, setting the old blues vibe perfectly for sealing the deal with the Devil to create heavy metal. You’ve got the larger than life epic stylistics of closer Fortress Of The Future Race and the electrifying riffage adding a touch of venom to Atlacatl and title track It Was Metal.

Josh Schwartz doesn’t sit idle as each track takes him in new directions, while still letting him play around and have obvious fun as he delivers solo after potent solo. Bass player and keyboardist Jesse Keen adds the deep, rumbling drive with in the first part, and sets the theme and the background atmosphere with the low key keyboard presence. Unfortunately a couple of low points are around; you have Second Lives, which is fairly stagnant, and the overlong Obsidian & Gold (Desdinova Returns), and Lifebringer could have been cut a minute or two. But nothing stands out as much as Tomyris. This is where the storytelling comes to a peak; dealing with the ancient Persian queen and major badass of the same name, where Osegueda portrays the role with conviction and coolness. The epic setting and the flowing drama sits well as the melodic metal that should sit well with any fan of traditional metal. A Sound Of Thunder deliver their potent declaration of love for old school heavy metal with ingenuity and precision, and it definitely is metal - heavy metal.

 

Standout tracks: Phantom Flight, Els Segadors (The Reapers), Tomyris

 

    

 

Musikvideo: A Sound Of Thunder - It Was Metal