Powerwolf – Call of the Wild (Napalm Records)Friday, 23rd July 2021
Through tenacious drive, dependable discography, and memorable live performances, Powerwolf has ascended to the top of the charts as well as the hearts of the faithful followers in their power metal niche. Stirring anthems that evoke ever-lasting charm, the combination of influences from the past and present plus a bit of tongue in cheek lyrical humor/twists allow these Germans to be one of the rare success stories from the 2000’s to present. This latest album Call of the Wild continues the grandiose tradition previously set forth: guitars and organs ablaze, drumming precise and militant, while the choruses embed themselves into a call to action reverie.
Harmonies abound, taking on a mixture of gothic and folk influences shaped into a power context right away through opener “Faster Than the Flame” – the organ segments matching up seamlessly during the chorus. The mixture of werewolves, horror, and religious themes provide Powerwolf alluring imagery and fresh terrain to tackle even this deep into the band’s career – “Dance with the Dead” an early favorite with alliteration and circular aspects of the number seven and occasional Latin phrases done in a mid-tempo, uplifting catchy anthem format. Matching up the layers of choirs and orchestration beyond the conventional instrumentation must be a challenging task – to take what you imagine in your mind and measure it sonically without overwhelming the listener – yet songs such as “Varcolac” and “Sermon of Swords” successfully see-saw through all those aspects. Bagpipes permeate “Blood for Blood (Faoladh)”, a glorious blend of folk/power metal that takes aspects of Orden Ogan and Sabaton into account, just pushed through the Powerwolf template. The record has a tight tidiness, no stone left unturned in its old school forty minutes and change timeframe as the diversity between speedier numbers, conventional metal efforts, and the occasional ballad or outside language effort part of the dynamic quality that keeps interest from record to record.
Why break a winning formula, right? Call of the Wild isn’t breaking new ground, more of a natural reseeding of the soil to ensure a proper crop for the faithful to enjoy and hopefully gain new followers into the fold.