When a joke elicits little more from you than the odd chuckle does that make it a bad joke, or do you simply have no sense of humour? This is the question I kept mulling over in my head whilst listening to POWERWOLF’s latest effort, “Bible Of The Beast”. Pretty much every aspect of this band seems more than a little questionable - from their cheesy moniker, their even cheesier image, to song-titles like “Panic In The Pentagram”, “Resurrection By Erection” and “Raise Your Fist, Evangelist” it’s clear that that these guys have their tongues planted firmly in cheek. Yet despite all this I never really found myself smiling from ear to ear while the music blasted away... Am I just stuck up or is this band simply not that funny (or good)?
Whether or not POWERWOLF’s music rocks as hard as the band itself seems to think it does I’ll leave to you to decide, but I will give them credit for at least having a relatively original sound (a bizarre mix of the OTT Power Metal bombast of SABATON and KING DIAMOND-like atmospherics), while the wolf obsessed lyrics are also a nice touch. There are quite a few cracking songs scattered throughout the album, with the fist-pumping grandeur of “Raise Your Fist...”, the East-European Folk stomp of “Werewolves Of Armenia” (replete with Cossack-flavoured chants), the uplifting “We Take The Church By Storm”, and the epic “Wolves Against The World” easily being among the best and most entertaining on offer here. The rather excessive use of Latin choral effects as well as the battle cry nature of many of the choruses tread a fine line between majestic and just plain stupid a lot of the time but for the most part these Germans pull it off with relative style. The vocals are of the gruff but chest-thumping variety (hence the SABATON comparison), and while they fit an anthem-like song like “Resurrection By Erection” like a glove the song itself is just a little too repetitive to cut mustard. The same could also be said of “Midnight Messiah” and “Seven Deadly Saints”.
On the whole I’m quite conflicted over “Bible Of The Beast”. The album is a scorcher when the band gets it right (i.e. pumping up the bombast factor without going too far), and the multitude of choral flourishes and varying tempos does give the album a very expansive sound, but there are also many instances when the band seems to try too hard and coming off as a parody act in the process. But hey, I’m feeling quite chipper as I sit here typing this, so I’ll forgive the band their occasional missteps and give “Bible Of The Beast” a solid 7. It is a marked improvement over their previous effort (“Lupus Dei”) and if they keep this up and excise some excess fat here and there I’m sure they will give a similar (though way more experienced) act like RAGE a good run for their money in no time at all.
(Online October 5, 2009)