Running With The Greywolf – Matthew Greywolf of Powerwolf

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Powerwolf, photo Manuela Meyer

Werewolf obsessed German Power Metallers Powerwolf are lining up their second album for Napalm Records, and sixth opus overall. Focal point of the band Matthew Greywolf talked lyrics and music (but not religion) with Ghost Cult as he gears up for the release of Blessed & Possessed

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Powerwolf are a rare old breed… when the moon is full, and howls fill the air, they bring tales or werewolves, liturgical detonations, vampires and papal decapitations all via bombastic, energetic heavy metal. In part due to Romanian vocalist Attila Dorn’s distinctive tones, Greywolf has been successful in establishing identifiable Powerwolf characteristics that have run throughout their career – distinctive hook-laden, fist-pumping traditional based metal, album covers depicting werewolves in papal robes destroying priests, corpse-paint and crucifixes, Latin titles and lyrics about sticking it, and dynamite, to the Man (upstairs).

From releasing a concept album about a werewolf finding God in the classic Lupus Dei (Metal Blade), religion is an integral part of the Powerwolf world. And from the title of their newest album, Blessed & Possessed (Napalm), it seems that once again the band have a bone to pick with Christianity. One wonders, though, just how many more stories of vampires and werewolves blowing up priests the band will be able to tell?

“I don´t know, and I don´t care” begins Greywolf. “We feel truly inspired by what we do and what we love. Our lyrical concept is the result of our private fascination by history and religion, and it suits our music very well.

“I was raised a Catholic and have some knowledge about Catholicism and Christian history – that’s the territory I know about, and why Powerwolf mostly refer to Christian religion and liturgy.”

Greywolf, though, doesn’t want to be drawn into discussing it, continuing “I don´t want to philosophize about that. Powerwolf is not a band delivering any sort of religious or political message. As far as religion in general is concerned, I´m convinced that the question about higher spirits and the sense of life lies within man and is universal.

“Being a band that sings about religion doesn’t mean we feel the need to deliver a message or convince anybody of anything. Anything but metal of course.

“I don´t label ourselves anything but Metal. I don´t need any other description and I think we have developed a trademark sound that stands out of any description.”

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Powerwolf, photo Manuela Meyer

With a band like Powerwolf, to this observer and fan, there has always been an assumption that there is a touch of tongue in cheek and irony that is part of the bands make up. Nothing could be further from the truth.

“We´re dead serious about what we do” straight bats Greywolf, suddenly shifting my own personal take on the band. “This band is what I live for 24/7. Some people mistake slight sarcasm in our lyrics for unserious, but on the contrary it isn’t at all. We use sarcasm to display distance to religious fanaticism. Sarcasm is a means to point out we´re not fanatics, and sarcasm is a true weapon.

“Musically this band is exactly the dream I had being a young metalhead who dreamt of having his own band.”

Not even as an artist, or a musician?

“Sure, we might want to play more sophisticated stuff, but honestly, I’m blessed and happy that my ego doesn’t feel the need to show off what great guitar player I am. Writing songs for Powerwolf is all about writing great and catchy songs, not about displaying musical abilities. There´s way too many bands doing so, and all of them are boring as hell.”

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Powerwolf, photo Manuela Meyer

All this talk of great and catchy songs brings us back to that distinctive Powerwolf sound, and it comes as no surprise to report that Blessed & Possessed doesn’t deviate far from the expected output; uptempo, dark, metal anthems praising the power of the lycanthrope and another dose of classic Powerwolf, instantly recognisable and defiantly fist-pumping.

Yet, to be distinctive, and to have lived with their own sound and style for ten years now, not falling into a rut and maintaining standards is something that every band that achieves longevity has to find a way to deal with, and Powerwolf are no exception. “We are a band that works intuitively. We don’t take conscious decisions and therefore our trademark sound is a sound that has evolved over the years and can be seen as a natural result of the five of us playing music together. Hence it’s not hard to stay true to our natural sound.

“When we start writing a new album, our goal is not to consciously change anything or try hard to be different, but simply to write a bunch of great new songs – the rest is what naturally happens.

“What we knew was that we had something thrilling to write and release. The combination of the five musicians that are Powerwolf was magic from the first moment on and still is.”

Blessed & Possessed is released via Napalm Records on 10th July

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STEVE TOVEY

 

Powerwolf – The History Of Heresy I (2004 – 2008)

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Iron Maiden were the first band I can remember making a big deal of reaching a decade with their The First Ten Years (EMI) boxset. Back in 1990 it was a big deal because Heavy Metal as we know and love it hadn’t been around long enough for multiple bands to reach such a landmark. Next up was Judas Priest’s Metalworks (Columbia) compilation in 1993, a 20 year retrospective.

 

Both of those bands are prevalent when discussing Powerwolf’s own ten year anniversary, being, along with The Misfits, chief amongst their influences. And to be fair, a deluxe double-CD with bonus tracks and live DVD box set, with 112 page hardback book all in a canvas bag (all for the incredible price of $30) is as good a way as any to celebrate such a key milestone in a career.

 

Comprising of their first two albums, Return In Bloodred and landmark release Lupus Dei, backed up with a smattering of live tracks from the time, along with a bonus DVD featuring their triumphant Wacken performance of 2008, The History Of Heresy I (2004 – 2008) (Metal Blade) is a great opportunity to pick up the earlier works of a band who seem to have blossomed in terms of output and popularity in the last few years.

 

Of the two albums on display, the development of the band is clear to see, from the more naïve and awkward, though still promising, debut to the confident and distinctive sophomore Lupus Dei. While …Bloodred may be a little uncertain and inconsistent in places, the core elements are in place, and in ‘Kiss Of The Cobra King’ possesses a genuine classic anthem.

 

There is a clear step up in class, consistency, swagger and delivery on Lupus Dei, though, with tracks like ‘Saturday Satan’, ‘Prayer In The Dark’ and the speed-camp Priest worship of ‘Behind The Leathermask’ possessing the tongue-in-cheek sing-a-long rocking Power Metal qualities Powerwolf have since refined to an art-form. The live tracks show Powerwolf in a good light, too, sounding tight and energetic and a nice little bonus set.

 

Considering what you get for the price, and bearing in mind the quality on Lupus Dei alone, it’s a deal, it’s a steal, it’s the sale of the fucking century and a great way to backfill and complete your Powerwolf collection.

 

8.0/10.0

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STEVE TOVEY