REVIEW: POWERWOLF – Call of the Wild (Album, 2021)

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German Power Metal band Powerwolf are set to release their eighth’s studio album Call of the Wild this Friday. If you have no idea who Powerwolf are – they are like Sabaton, remove the tanks and add mystical creatures. And if you aren’t familiar with Sabaton, well… Powerwolf is like partying with the werewolfs at midnight, by the old church with the heavy metal guitars. And so without further ado let’s take a look at what is inside the record which many music critics believe will be the power metal album of the year.

Track By Track

The album opens with an epic orchestral intro to Faster Than the Flame which quickly grows into a rapid melodic Power Metal piece. From the song’s opening notes it becomes clear that with this record the band is set to deliver a classic Powerwolf experience to its listeners. And that being  an album full of energy, melodic tunes and very catchy choruses. Speaking of which, Faster Than the Flame is definitely one of those songs which chorus will get stuck in your head for hours to come. And you will one of those annoying guys who continuously sings the same phrase and cannot do anything with it.

The band than goes straight into Beast of Gévaudan, telling the tale of the mystical 18th century creature which terrorised the south of France for several years and yet has never been caught… and we are not really sure if it ever existed. This track was released as one of the singles to the album. And here is where the greatest mystery lies for me. I actually think that Beast of Gévaudan might be one of the weakest tracks on the record. On this song the band has cranked their trademark catchiness to 11, thus going a bit too far for my personal taste. And you are of course more than welcome to through stones at me, but this statement is in no way intended to depreciate the album’s sound. Quite the opposite. If you have already heard Beast of Gévaudan and thought it was amazing, than I am sure that the rest of the album will simply blow your mind.

If you want a find a perfect description for the following track Dancing with the Dead just take a look at its title. You simply could not describe the feelings it evokes more perfectly. The track opens with a melodious guitar lick which will run as a thread throughout the entire song. And it is this lick which will eventually develop into the song’s culmination, bursting in a straightforward yet masterful guitar solo. The song has of course already been released, so if you heard it, make sure to share your thoughts in the comments.

The next song’s title should be easily understood by any Central and Eastern Europeans out here. Varcolac, even though it might not be the most memorable track on the record introduces a nice change in tempo, giving some variety to the album’s first half and laying the foundation for Alive or Undead – a classic power metal ballad. Its enchanting intro melody organically grows into a grand slow pace opus, making you drift away in your mind to a distant fantasy world. What I also loved about Alive or Undead is it’s placement on the record which is done in a very old-fashioned way, closing the first side of the record so it would not only give its listener a time to breath, but would also soak in your head before you flip that record and move on to the album’s second half. That of course is if you are a vinyl geek like myself. If not, just take 30 second pause after it. That will do.

We then have Blood for Blood (Faoladh) which could easily be a soundtrack for either a pirate movie, or an Irish equivalent of Brave Heart. And even if neither, it will definitely be an amazing sing along for any future live concerts. On Glaubenskraft the band leans towards an even more epic sound, enriching the song’s production with grand orchestral arrangements. And on the album’s title track Call of the Wild Powerwolf unleashes all they’ve got, capturing all the bits and pieces they’ve presented earlier on this record. It is rapid, melodious, outrageously catchy and has an exact right amount of epicness to sound grand yet not too pretentious. Possibly my favourite track on the record.

Sermon of Swords might be a bit too predictable in its first half. Yet the track’s breakdown after its equator is what makes it stand out. I can already imagine it simply tearing the crowd at the next open air festival, and would love to hear it live. On Undress to Confess the band gives a nod to their most successful song Demons Are a Girl’s Best Friend, which by the way was re-released together with Arch Enemy’s Alissa White-Gluz recently. The album closes with Reverent of Rats, which in my personal opinion would have sounded better if used as a bridge earlier on the record, and not as a closer to a grand and epic-sounding album.

Verdict

Overall Call of the Wild is an extremely cohesive record. The production on the album is simply spotless, and all the visual elements including its fascinating cover artwork truly add to the imagery and the storytelling in the songs. Could it have been any stronger? Possibly yes. For example I think that the album should have been closed with its title track, and the three last songs would have better fitted elsewhere on the record. Yet overall if you are a fan of modern Power Metal, than I have no doubt you will absolutely love the album. And if you are not used to the genre than you will definitely enjoy the visual imagery and certain individual tracks. 

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