Powerwolf has been around for a while now, releasing eight studio albums throughout their nearly 20-year career. In that time they have established themselves as one of the powerhouses of the genre and a must-see band live. Their latest album, Call of the Wild, is under our microscope today for New Music Monday. Having not listened to this band too much aside from their bigger songs, I have to say I’m pretty excited as I always need more power metal in my life!
‘Faster Than the Flame’ starts with some epic chanting and strings, immediately setting an awesome tone and feel to it. It then descends into the opening chorus, the vocals sounding powerful and great with some huge guitar chords and drums behind them. A quick verse riff follows afterwards – the drums’ double bass working overtime behind it. It drops down a little, some more chanted vocals in what I assume to be German, before that awesome catchy chorus comes back again. It’s already stuck in my head for the rest of the day and I’ve only heard it twice. We get a short bridge before a pretty great guitar solo, fast and technical for the first half before it slows down a little in the second part to match the rest of the instruments. It drops down again into another bridge with some catchy chants that build perfectly into a final chorus. This was a good song and a great start to an album, making the playlist!
The lead single of the album, ‘Beast of Gevaudan’, is up next. It opens on another build-up of chanting, this time it heads straight into a fantastic guitar and keys riff. The epicness definitely remaining from the previous song. Most of the instruments drop out for the verse, leaving just the powerful vocals and some basic drums. It builds up perfectly into the heaviness of another catchy chorus, though it wasn’t quite as good as the previous one. A lot was going on in it and even though there were more great backing vocals and harmonies, I think it was just a tad too wordy. We get an awesome breakdown after the second chorus with the strings and chanting coming back, easily signalling the pyro cue for live shows. The bridge between it and the solo sounds like it could have been ripped straight from a Maiden song, but that doesn’t take away its awesomeness. Another great solo leads to a dropped-down chorus, one that builds into a huge, epic final chorus. It was a good song overall, but I preferred the opener a fair bit more.
Another single ‘Dancing With the Dead’, is next. It opens on another epic power metal riff, the drums soon coming in to add the fast driving force behind it. It again drops down for the verse, mainly focusing on the vocals, strings, and keys. It builds well into the huge, heavier chorus – this one being a little simpler and catchier vocally. The second verse and chorus have a little more instrumentation to them, adding some great dynamics to the song. The more I hear the chorus, the more I fall in love with it, and it is going to be another track stuck in my head for days to come. The solo in this song is slower, re-treading the vocal melody for the most part, but it sounds awesome. If anything, it may be better than their crazy fast playing in the last two songs. It then heads into a final double chorus to end another fantastic song and one that rather easily made the playlist.
‘Varcolac’ opens on some more choir-style vocals and I have to admit it’s starting to wear a little thin on me already – not a good sign for a power metal album. Still though, the riff that proceeds it is pretty great. It’s a little steadier than I’m used to from the band so far. The verse maintains the same steady speed and riff, although they mention the song title so much in the lyrics that I was worried I’d gotten it confused and it was the chorus instead. I’m still a tad confused, but I think the higher, double-based parts are considered the choruses of the song. Either way, the chanting of Varcolac is catchier than any other part of the song so it may as well have been the chorus! A riff seems to come out of nowhere for a moment after the second chorus before it is quickly hidden by the vocals and epicness again, which was a little odd. It would have been nice to give the riff a little more time to breathe. We get a high bridge part again before it heads into a verse/chorus part again to finish it off. This was a good song, but man did the structure confuse me a little!
‘Alive or Undead’ starts slower than the others with a beautiful piano melody, but all I could think about was how much the choir at the start sounded like the Halo song. Karsten “Attila Dorn” Brill’s low vocals fit surprisingly well over the top of the piano, somehow adding even more beauty to the track. This song is a slow build; the strings and other accompaniment swells more and more as the vocals do and it takes over a minute and a half for it to finally break and the drums and guitars to come in. They only add to the epicness of it all – this feeling like a fantastic power metal power ballad… there must be an easier way of saying that! It all drops out again for a slow, brief guitar solo that builds up again for a huge final chorus and outro, even managing to squeeze another great guitar solo into it too. This was just the sort of change of pace this album needed after the first few tracks being a little similar and it worked perfectly, I loved it!
‘Blood for Blood’ opens with enough accordion that for a moment I thought I was listening to a Dropkick Murphys song. The heaviness is soon built in around it though as it turns into a power-folk-metal song, somehow. Unfortunately, outside of the interesting new instrumentation, there isn’t too much difference in this track that I haven’t already heard before on the album. Also, unfortunately, it is the same for the following track ‘Glaubenskraft’ and the album’s title track. ‘Call of the Wild’ has a damn catchy chorus, don’t get me wrong, but they are all fairly similar to the opening few tracks – enough for me not to have much to say about them!
The final three songs are again more of the same. I want to stress that it isn’t at all a bad thing; a band is going to have a distinct sound that they stick to, especially in such a niche sub-genre, it just means as a reviewer I have less to gush over. ‘Sermon of Swords’ has an awesome duelling solo and some fun chants, ‘Undress to Confess’ is silly, comedic brilliance that I wasn’t expecting to hear from an otherwise serious-sounding band and ‘Reverent of Rats’ is a pretty strong closer. However, outside of that, I can’t say much that I haven’t already said when talking about other songs.
Overall: This was a damn enjoyable album packed full of great instrumentation, epic feeling, and some very catchy vocals. It is another review that has immediately made me want to check out more of their stuff, as well as see them live as it is the sort of music that would be even better to see in person with the whole stage show backing it. One of the best new release this year!
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