It’s been eleven years since my career as a music journalist began and, to this day, there are times that I still find myself baffled by some of the decisions made by even of the most successful of record labels!
Take, for instance the case of Metal Blade Records and the flamboyant and artistically gifted Power/Heavy combo Powerwolf.
Back in 2005, the very label that brought to our attention the likes of Metallica, Slayer, Fates Warning and Amon Amarth struck once again gold by signing these German music merchants, but, following the release of four albums of pure head-banging and fist-raising quality, they dropped their eyes from the ball and allowed their competitors Napalm Records to snatch the bands right from their very hands.
While Attila Dorn and Co continue to impress and convert people around the globe onto their cause, Metal Blade is left licking its wounds and making the most out of their early association with the band by releasing two compilations this year, the first of which is called “The History Of Heresy I (2004-2008)”.
As the title clearly suggests, what this 2CD/DVD release focuses on is material released by the band during the period that its first two albums saw the light of day.
Now, in view of the fact that the only bonus tracks on offer are live versions of songs from that era recorded during the band’s performance in Wacken last year, the question is automatically raised as to whether someone who already owns both 2005’s “Return In Bloodred” and 2007’s “Lupus Dei” should consider parting with his/hers hard-earned money.
Well if, like myself, you do decide to reach towards your wallet what you will get in return, addition to the great music on offer, is a 112-page hardcover book filled with liner noted, studio reports and tons of previously-unpublished photos, three cover sleeves and, most importantly, a bonus DVD containing the video version of the above-mentioned bonus tracks entitled “Wacken Worship”.
If, on the other hand and for whatever good reason, Powerwolf are still an unknown entity or you, this collection is the perfect introduction to the works of one of the most unique and exciting Metal bands of the last decade!
I could spend hours describing and analysing the twenty nine tracks on offer but, due to space constraints, I will instead focus to what I consider to be the highlights of each disc.
The main focus on disc number one are the nine compositions that put together the band’s 2005 debut “Return In Bloodred” and the first song that stands out is the atmospheric head banger “Mr. Sinister”.
It is this great mix of eerie organ melodies, heavy staccato riffs and Attila’s operatic vocals that inform the music of the band, elements of which can also be found in the mid-tempo melody-driven, sing-along opus “Kiss Of The Cobra King” as well as the dark themed “Lucifer In Starlight” which, to this day, gives me the Goosebumps.
Of the three live compositions on offer, all of which are performed in a highly professional manner, the one that stands out is that of “We Came To Take Your Souls” as it features a decent amount of participation by the Wacken audience.
By the time the second studio album, 2007’s “Lupus Dei” was released, Powerwolf were a much more confident and mature outfit – something that truly reflects on the material featured in disc number two.
The sing along duet “We Take It From The Living” / “Prayer In The Dark” finds the band looking towards Iron Maiden and Judas Priest for inspiration and by the time the last highly contagious notes of the sensational anthem “Saturday Satan” are performed you know that this band has got you hooked for good.
While “When The Moon Shines Red” operates on a slow Sabbath-influenced groovy theme, “Mother Mary Is A Bird Of Prey” goes straight for the kill with its blistering riffs and commanding vocal lines. The dark-themed and highly cinematic “Lupus Dei” concludes the main studio recordings in impressive fashion, however, the second disc offers six additional live tracks with “Mother Mary Is A Bird Of Prey” standing out as a result of a sensational vocal performance by the band’s charismatic front man Attila Dorn.
Generally speaking, I am not in favour of collections that are released by past labels whose purpose is to cash in on the popularity of a band that’s no longer under its control but “The History Of Heresy I (2004-2008)” is, simply said, the exception to that rule.
Apart from twenty Heavy Metal compositions of unique nature and of the highest quality, for a very reasonable price, what you get in addition is a generous amount of previously unavailable audio, video and photographic material presented in a special-sized hardcover box with embossment that will have no problem finding its rightful place in your CD/LP collection.
A special release by a very special band!