Sunday, November 21, 2021

Powerwolf - The Symphony of Sin (2020)

The Symphony of Sin is such a pompous and over-the-top idea that you wonder why Powerwolf didn't pull it off any sooner. Okay, so it's not their first attempt, they did a couple orchestral versions as bonus tracks for Preachers of the Night, but not this well, and not to this extent. Clearly the sweep and dynamic range of their material has had a heavy imprint from opera and classical influences, ever since the earlier albums, and now the German ghouls and lycanthropes get to live it. And like so much of their output, it's carried out with a professionalism that is far beyond what you'd have expected they could adaptation of The Sacrament of Sin that, for my money, is just about as potent in this medium as it is was with the electrical guitars and thundering drums.

In fact, although it does have the sort of Wagnerian menace that you equate with a lot of metal, if I hadn't already heard the 'heavy' version, I'd have thought much of this was written for this very context. Attila's obviously a natural, and the choir does well to support his voice as well as give a similar impression to when the band is using one of its own gang choruses. You want screams or ethereal female vocals to break out? They do in "Demons are a Girl's Best Friend". The horns are brazen, the keys, organs and pipes all sound truly resilient, as if you're hearing this while traversing some haunted fortress in a modern-day Castlevania sequel. Percussion gives it a theatrical, exotic flare and barbaric seriousness worthy of Basil Poledouris. To its credit, even at its most glorious, it still maintains the superficial sense of darkness which fuels most of their better material, and it's done to such a degree here that you wonder if these fellas had a more promising career in opera?!

Maybe that's too far, but The Symphony of Sin is quite a lot of fun. If you're bored of all this sort of orchestration, it's not about to change your mind. I sometimes get a mixed opinion on it, like the new Blind Guardian Twilight Orchestra album, which is nowhere as good at this. But what makes this release valuable is just how you can feel the currents of these particular tunes shift into new dimensions that are equally valuable to the metal versions. I was also a little impressed that they did it for this entire album, and focused in on that rather than assembling a 'greatest hits' through their career, which might not have gelled so well. This is also another release which the band originally included on a multi-CD deluxe set, which I missed out on, but it's since been given its own treatment.

Verdict: Win [8.25/10]

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