Hot on the lashing tail of the cheesiest of Sharknado films, Powerwolf return with another wolfnado of larger than life proportions. I’m told it’s supposed to be a humdinger, boasting some of the finest power metal, speed, hard rock and unholy orchestra contributions, and Powerwolf kept this firecracker under wraps for near on two years before unleashing it on the unsuspecting public. Upon giving it a spin, I soon discovered that gone are the days of the mischievous “Mr Sinister,” the chugging doom of “Montecore” and hearty anthems with promises of “We Take it From The Living.” Instead Blessed & Possessed continues the band’s pursuit of profit and commercial success, delivering power metal that rivals the speed and pompous ceremony of its predecessor – Preachers of the Night.
The title track is full of blood, piss and fire just as you’d expect from a Powerwolf ditty. What I didn’t foresee was that the track would remind me so much of “Amen & Attack.” This is just the start of a very common vein that runs though Blessed & Possessed. Each slickly delivered anthem reminds you of something the band’s done in the past. “Dead Until Dark” harkens back to “Cardinal Sin” and “Son of a Wolf,” while “Higher Than Heaven” rings out with the striking resemblance to “In the Name of God (Deus Vult).” These are great tracks but I’m not particularly thrilled that they’re being rehashed.
Blessed & Possessed isn’t all about Powerwolf ripping off Powerwolf. “Sanctus Dominus” starts off with some unexpected Avantasia-like symphonic excess before Matthew Greywolf drops a couple of flashy, lycra clad, hair metal-styled guitar solos to please the easy listening masses. “Sacramental Sister” is built on a triumphant opening that feels more like the kind of somber melo-death I expect from In Mourning. With both tracks, as soon as Attila Dorn begins his signature over-the-top croon, things head right back into Powerwolf‘s tried and true wheelhouse.
Attila Dorn sounds as strong as ever vocally, but when you compare his contributions to early albums like Return in Bloodred and Lupus Dei, you can’t help but notice the excessively dramatic commercialized style he’s adopted of late, eschewing the gravelly rumble and the in-check theatrics of Return in Bloodred. The modern production style used on Blessed & Possessed also reminds me of that used on Blood of the Saints and Preachers of the Night. It makes Attila Dorn sound larger than life, and coaxes out the symphonic elements in “Army of the Night” and “Sanctus Dominus” while bringing Matthew and Charles Greywolf’s nimble guitar melodies and the cleanly delivered, well timed beats of Roel van Helden to the fore.
Outside of a few fun moments in the title track, “Army of the Night” and “Sacramental Sister,” Blessed & Possessed does nothing more than prove Powerwolf are spinning their musical wheels. It seems they’ve run out of ideas, and many of their newer tracks feel too interchangeable and formulaic to be a necessary addition to anybody’s playlist. Is this the end of the road for Powerwolf? Only time will tell.