Powerwolf – Amaranthe: Live at The Mill, Birmingham (UK)

Following the previous night’s splendidly named Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse, a still virtually full moon hangs in the sky over Birmingham, accompanied by rapidly falling temperatures and icy gusts of snowy wind. So, what better way to keep warm on a wintry January evening than with some werewolf themed German Heavy Metal.

Situated next to the old Victorian railway arches in the Digbeth area of the city, The Mill is already pleasingly full as I arrive shortly after first act Kissin’ Dynamite have left the stage. An oddly laid out venue, gaining entrance is almost akin to queuing for an indoor fairground attraction. However, after ascending a small flight of stairs, the venue opens up into an impressively sized room with a mezzanine level, merch areas, a bar, and male and female shared toilet facilities.

Midlands shows on weeknights can often prove to be quite subdued affairs, but Swedish sextet Amaranthe are received extremely well by an exuberant Brummie crowd. Even the chap (I assume chap – apologies for any politically incorrect gender assumption there) dressed in full werewolf costume is hopping around, clearly having a grand old-time.

After leading us through nine tracks of Within Temptation and In Flames meets nightclub Dance beats, the backing track-assisted band leave the stage only for Johan Andreassen to remain behind, the hairy bassist deciding to entertain the crowd by (thankfully briefly) dancing ‘The Floss’ and engaging in a bit of audience participation with the amused, but also now slightly bewildered crowd. Rejoining their mad bandmate, the band closes their set with ‘Call Out My Name’ and ‘The Nexus’, leaving the stage one final time to a warm ovation.

With their Black Metal aesthetic but traditional Heavy Metal sound, Powerwolf launch straight into ‘Fire And Forgive’ before thundering through ‘Army Of The Night’, ‘Incense And Iron’, ‘Amen And Attack’, and ‘Let There be Night’, the jubilant crowd singing along to every word. And when ‘Demons Are A Girl’s Best Friend’ arrives, it’s clear that this new track is already a firm live favourite.

Vocalist Attila Dorn leads his face-painted bandmates imperiously, clad in a long, dusty black tunic, teasing and playing with the crowd at every opportunity, while keyboard player Falk Maria Schlegel jumps to the front of the stage to act as cheerleader whenever possible. The twin guitars of the perpetually gurning Matthew and Charles Greywolf bite and snarl their way over Roel van Helden‘s drums, while the bass, as ever, is piped in via pre-recorded backing tracks.

Continuing with ‘Killers With The Cross’, ‘Blessed And Possessed, ‘Stossgebet’, ‘All We Need Is Blood’, ‘We Drink Your Blood’ and the (a)rousing ‘Resurrection By Erection’, the band leave the stage only to return for a three-song encore which begins with ‘Sanctified With Dynamite’ and ends with ‘Werewolves Of Armenia’ – the two tracks separated by ‘Coleus Sanctus’, a song which is essentially about religious masturbation (the title itself translates to ‘holy sack’).

And so, with songs about blood, crosses, naughty nuns, randy werewolves, moonlit phalluses and aggressive nocturnal onanism, Powerwolf (occasionally assisted by Satanic monks/really tall Jawas) end their time at The Mill triumphantly, the promise of another glorious Metal Mass at Bloodstock Open Air having already been announced for the summer.

WORDS AND PHOTOS BY GARY ALCOCK