Review Summary: Powerwolf both blesses and possesses the listener with another consistent release featuring some of their best work.
"Blessed & Possessed" is the sixth studio album by German power metal band, Powerwolf, and was released in 2016. Powerwolf's lineup from 2013's "Preachers of the Night" returns with vocalist Attila Dorn, guitarist Matthew Greywolf, Charles Greywolf performing double duty with guitar and bass guitar, drummer Roel van Helden, and organ/keyboards by Falk Maria Schlegel. "Blessed & Possessed" consists of 11 tracks with a runtime of just under 46 minutes.
Powerwolf consistently set themselves apart from the majority of power metal bands with their personal spin on the genre. Where many other bands elect to write fantasy-themed material featuring the likes of dragons, legendary weapons, and great battles; Powerwolf chooses to write tales of werewolves and vampires, dark stories about religion (often making tongue-in-cheek use of words like "hallelujah," and various latin phrases throughout their lyrics), and other gothic-themed subject matter. As if to drive the point home, the band wears corpse paint and favors the sounds of an organ over the electronic keyboards that are so familiar to power metal. "Blessed & Possessed" continues the band's modus operandi with lines like "We are the wild and after midnight we're alive; can't stop the wild, forever born to hail the night," and "sacramental sister, to God you are sworn, when desires are calling the Bible is torn."
The songs that make up the track list consist of both fast-paced and mid-tempo guitar riffs that are followed by the bass guitar, and accented by Schlegel's accompanying keyboards. These rhythms and melodies are complimented greatly by the production, which allows each element to be heard clearly while delivering a big sound. The drumming on this album is not the flashiest performance, however it provides the necessary punch to the songs and sets a great pace for the album as a whole. The highlight of this (and most Powerwolf albums) is Dorn's vocals. Dorn switches seamlessly between traditional, harsher vocals to his incredible, operatic baritone that dominates every track.
The good: "Blessed & Possessed" is chock-full of anthemic moments, especially in highlight tracks "Higher Than Heaven," "Army of the Night," and "Sanctus Dominus." All three of those tracks feature the speedy riffing and big chorus moments that fans of Powerwolf, and the genre as a whole, will enjoy and find themselves undoubtedly singing along. More great moments come in the tracks "Sacramental Sister" and "Armata Strigoi," both of which show that Powerwolf is able to slow down the tempo for a more mid-paced experience, while still preserving the mood and energy of the album. Finally, the album concludes with "Let There Be Night," which serves as an excellent summary of the experience as a whole. The song features what may be called the "essence" of Powerwolf, utilizing every aspect of Dorn's vocals, multiple tempos, and the horror-themed atmosphere the Powerwolf molds their music around.
The bad: Both casual listeners and fans of power metal can experience fatigue when it comes to this type of music. "Blessed & Possessed" is no exception, and although each song is unique in it's own right, listeners that are giving less than most of their attention may find the similar song structures blending together to a degree. Additionally, the listener may find the organs underwhelming in many tracks as it mostly follows the guitar riffs; whereas it could benefit from having its own compositions from time to time.
The bottom line: "Blessed & Possessed" is a solid album and may arguably be the band's best work to date at the time of its release. Fans of the band will rejoice as Powerwolf maintain their consistency and sound. Fans of the genre and casual fans alike will find something to love, and should certainly give "Blessed & Possessed" a listen.