Powerwolf- Blessed and Possessed (Napalm Records)

Have the werewolves struck again? Or is it time to get a silver bullet and send them the way of Old Yeller?

By all rights, Powerwolf is a band that shouldn’t really require much critical appraisal. Their brand of bombastic, cheesy and over the top power metal isn’t exactly the most challenging material out there and they are stringent followers of the Motorhead School of song-writing. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and make sure that there are absolutely no surprises. With that said, I’ve always been quite a fan of the band. Albums like Blood of the Saints and Bible of the Beast had the hooks and bombast to pump your veins full of feta-infused adrenalin and the band was producing enough earworms to keep things exciting. 2013’s Preachers of the Night left me feeling a little tepid, but now the band is back with a new effort. Have the werewolves struck again? Or is it time to get a silver bullet and send them the way of Old Yeller?  

Well, things get off to a good start with the title track. It carries a familiar feel to it, coming complete with a catchy chorus and church sermon on speed atmosphere. There’s organs and of course calls of “Halleluiah” and faux-Latin chants from vocalist Attila Dorn; nothing ground-breaking for the band but decent enough. However, soon enough that feeling of familiarity gives way to an uneasy sense of déjà vu; songs go from sounding similar to absolutely identical, the same riffs, the same melodies. Sure, they might be slightly tempo shifted and have different lyrics, but I damn well have heard these songs before. There’s having a formula and then there’s blatant self-plagiarising. While not every song has this effect, you find yourself pausing to check if you’re playing the right album enough times to warrant some serious concerns about whether the creative well has dried up for Powerwolf.

It would be hard to justify recommending this album to anyone, even the hardcore Powerwolf fans, as it would be akin to paying full price for a watered down product. It would be best to wait and see if the next album contains any more worthwhile ideas. Powerwolf might very well have written themselves into a corner and it’ll take some real creative risks to get them out of it. Whether they have it in them to step out of their comfort zone remains to be seen.

Blessed and Possessed is out now.