In a world of one anxiety inducing face slap after another, constants can be comforting. Constants like Powerwolf. No longer in need of introduction, the band has become one of the most recognizable and successful acts in modern power metal, spawning multitudes of copycats of their own. Call of the Wild comes three years after The Sacrament of Sin (2018) and is in almost all respects a continuation on where that album left off. They’re obviously no longer into the tradition of ending on a slow cooking epic, thunderstorms and wolves howling (I kinda liked the atmosphere back then), instead smashing melodic heavy metal from start to finish through the forty minute runtime. The songs are all around three to four minutes long, consisting of efficiently played and well crafted music that does little to deviate from the set formula - which of course is something many (or even most) bands do, but in Powerwolf’s case it’s become very in-your-face.
Shit’s incredibly catchy, because Powerwolf has learned through the years to pull off mighty choruses that instantly hook in your brain like nobody’s business. Attila Dorn flawlessly soars through the raspy lower quarters of his voice and up to the operatic higher moments. Since the album is pretty much a continuation of The Sacrament of Sin, sharing the same highs, it also drops into the same pitfalls. Powerwolf should not do ballads, but nevertheless Alive or Undead splits the album in twain (sitting on the same track number as equally useless Where the Wild Wolves Have Gone from the previous album, nonetheless). They’ve also not made a German language song worth four minute runtime since Kreuzfeuer, and Glaubenskraft on here is no exception. It sounds very much like the rest of them - why not go for something more interesting like they did as a single B-side and lyric video with a French version of Beast of Gévaudan, which arguably is cooler than the English original. So while it’s still incredibly well produced and there’s a high standard even for the low points, there’s skippable stuff - just like on the previous album.
Second single Dancing with the Dead is immediately one of the standout songs on the album. Heavily Maiden inspired the guys have added their twist and made it their own. “Brothers” Greywolf toss sweet riffing and some melodic dueling back and forth, making Dancing with the Dead the biggest highlight on here. First single Beast of Gévaudan brings the classic Powerwolfian bombast while Blood for Blood (Faoladh) takes on an Irish approach with the folky elements to boot. On the second half on the album things kind of muddle together a bit though, the songs a little less unique. Still, all you need to hear is that first single to know Call of the Wild will be another in the line of Powerwolf albums; same highs, same lows, same wherwolfian feel; though ultimately it doesn’t have the same innate charm as its predecessor and falls just short of reaching the same individual peaks. I’ll probably keep hoping in vain for a return to the sounds of Lupus Dei (2007) or even Blessed & Possessed (2015), but it’s still kind of nice in a world of shit to have a constant like Powerwolf.
Standout tracks: Beast of Gévaudan, Dancing with the Dead, Blood for Blood (Faoladh)