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Photos & Show Review: POWERWOLF's North American Live Debut Was A Colossal Heavy Metal Celebration

The Church of the Lycans took over Manhattan.


Theatricality seems to be a lost art in these United States of America, at least insofar as its domestic artists are concerned. A clumsy attempt here and there might occur by some novel pop artist at an awards ceremony, often inducing mass cringe rather than awe or elation, but more often than not its European ex-patriots like King Diamond and elder statesmen from a bygone era like Alice Cooper, Lizzy Borden or Blackie Lawless.

However the marriage of visual splendor with a matching array of intricate songwriting and dynamic instrumentation is alive and well in Europe via the ongoing power metal craze, with Germany's own Powerwolf being among the more larger than life adherents to take the mantle of the aforementioned 70s and 80s icons and bring it into the 21st century. On the evening of February 23rd, 2023 this quintet of Teutonic lycanthropes brought – for the first time ever in North American soil – their blend of liturgical imagery and soaring melodic anthems to Broadway, to a sold-out capacity crowd at the Palladium Times Square.

Entering to an epic symphonic overture like something out of a recent Hollywood blockbuster, these masters of the metallic arts hit the ground running with a brilliant blend of raw, impact-based power and organ-steeped, baroque timbre, spearheaded by front man Karsten "Attila Dorn" Brill's operatic howl. The combined efforts of guitarist Matthew Greywolf, bassist Charles Greywolf, drummer Roel van Helden and especially keyboardist Falk Maria Schlegel (all stage names, of course) constructed a wall of sound comparable to a full blown Wagnerian orchestra, and the resulting pandemonium that would possess the crowd in response was equally palpable.

Dorn proved equally as effective in the crowd work department as he did in his capacity as a classically-trained vocalist, often peppering the time in between the songs in this grueling, 105 minute set with well-placed banter and brief anecdotes about the next entry. Crowd participation was also on the menu for much of the evening, and the manner in which Attila encouraged involvement from the audience was highly reminiscent of the original king of said craft Ronnie James Dio.

Perhaps the only thing more impressive than the array of gothic imagery and elaborate costumes that came with this outfit's take on the live experience was the sheer intensity of the material being presented. Speed-infused anthems of classic creatures of the night such as "Faster Than The Flame", "Army Of The Night" and "Amen & Attack" were flawlessly executed and reminisced upon the glory days of Helloween with a darker neo-classical twist, while the mid-paced folksy romp "Incense & Iron" and the tongue-in-cheek ode to Nuns gone bad with an unsubtle nod to Marilyn Monroe "Demons Are A Girl's Best Friend" brought down the house with a brilliant blend of infectious hooks and fist-pumping heaviness.

Other highlight moments of the evening included a brilliant and impassioned rendition of signature power ballad "Where The Wild Wolves Have Gone" and the epic symphonic set closer "Let There Be Night", though the trifecta of ground-shaking anthems that rounded out the encore "Sanctified With Dynamite", "We Drink Your Blood" and "Werewolves Of Armenia" would leave an impression on Broadway that would take New York's road crews days to fill in.

In many respects, this evening was a triumph for those who long for the days when metal ruled the airwaves states side. For his part, Attila was a pinnacle of gratitude for the welcome that Powerwolf received by the crowd, as stated in his own words: "I'm so impressed with this evening and with the welcoming response you have given us that I don't know what the fuck I'm going to say right now. Thank you, New York. Thank you!" Likewise, his remarks of "This night showed me one thing. New York City is possessed by heavy metal!" rang out as a telltale sign that while this seemingly lost art might not enjoy the same commercial prominence that it did in the 1980s, it is far from lost here.

It was a celebration of the fantastical set to musical theater, replete with stunning visuals on stage and masterful performances to match, and even included a themed menu of refreshments that included a "Blessed & Possessed" beer and shot combo and a "Venom Of Venus" Tullamore Dew Whisky with Ginger Ale and lime. In short, Powerwolf opened a portal into another world of vivid characters and classical horror, and the 105 minutes that each traveler spent there was nothing short of magical.

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