Having never set foot on American soil until a couple of days prior in New York City, the power metal quintet Powerwolf, founded in 2003 in Saarbrücken, Germany – affectionately known as The Wolves to their diehard legion of fans – descended upon The Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts this past Saturday night, February 25.
Touring in support of their eighth studio album, Call of the Wild (Napalm Records, 2021), Powerwolf are vocalist Karsten Brill as “Attila Dorn,” lead guitarist Benjamin Buss as “Matthew Greywolf,” studio bassist and rhythm guitarist David Vogt as “Charles Greywolf,” keyboardist Christian Jost as “Falk Maria Schlegel” and drummer Roel van Helden.
Promptly at 7:00 pm, and much to the delight of nearly 100 fans who had been huddling together in below freezing temperatures (some as early as the morning hours), doors to the historic concert hall constructed in 1928 and known for hosting a bevy of legendary heavy metal acts over the years (Rammstein, Soundgarden, Korn, Rob Zombie and Slayer, to name but a few), finally opened. Approximately 30 minutes before the night’s opening act would take the stage, and with the nearly 2,200 seat venue filling up fast, fans continued to pack the warm confines of the lobby, while also checking out the ‘merch’ tables or grabbing a drink from the array of bars strategically placed throughout.
Running a little behind schedule, the house lights suddenly went dark as Napalm Records label mates Seven Kingdoms took the stage at 7:45 pm. Formed in 2007 and hailing from DeLand, Florida, they are a thrash metal band comprised of frontwoman Sabrina Valentine, her husband and guitarist Camden Cruz, along with brothers Keith and Kevin Byrd, on drums and guitar, respectively.
The Floridians performed a blistering 45-minute set that kicked off with “Universal Terrestrial,” taken from their most recent of five studio albums (Zenith, 2022). Led by Valentine’s broad vocal range that injects a raw emotion into all her lyrics, Seven Kingdoms nearly performed the entirety of Zenith, albeit two original songs (“Empty Eyes” and Life Signs”). Highlights of their set included “Love Dagger,” a tune reminiscent of the 1980s hair metal scene and “A Silent Remedy,” complete with explosive, crisp guitar riffing.
An unexpected inclusion in their 10-song set was a cover of Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer.” However, with each member adding their own power metal flavor for good measure, the almost 40-year old tune written by the Eagles vocalist and drummer fit right in nicely. The penultimate song of the night was the aggressive “Diamond Handed,” before “In the Walls” (Decennium, 2017), a song inspired by an H.P. Lovecraft short story, left the crowd ‘powermetalized’ and wanting more!
After a very quick turnover of the elaborate stage design by Powerwolf’s road crew, filled with dark werewolf fantasy art throughout, the moment we had all been waiting for had arrived! At 8:45 pm, the lights went down once again and one by one, beginning with the Dutch drummer van Helden, each band member took the stage and acknowledged their fans for a lasting moment before assuming their respective stage positions. Wearing meticulously-applied silver and black corpse face paint and donning industrial goth outfits, the ceremony commenced with “Faster Than the Flame,” the first of four offerings from the aforementioned Call of the Wild album – Powerwolf would go on to play “Dancing With the Dead,” “Beast of Gévaudan” and “Blood for Blood (Faoladh)” later in the night. As the song concluded, the fans erupted in applause, a whirling mosh pit suddenly formed in the center of the General Admission floor and repeated chants of “Powerwolf” began in unison, the first of many that fans would bestow upon its metal heroes.
Attila then addressed the congregation before him for the first of many times. “Good evening Worcester, it’s wonderful to be here! Welcome to the one and only holy heavy metal mass in the world!” “Incense & Iron” was up next, a track from Powerwolf’s seventh studio album (The Sacrament of Sin) released in 2018, which showcased Matthew Greywolf’s powerfully precise guitar craftmanship. Before launching into “Army of the Night” (Blessed & Possessed, 2015), Attila again acknowledged the faithful patrons of their music. “Thank you very much, you are very awesome my friends. Tonight is a very special night for us because we are playing here for the first time. It is a really amazing atmosphere here.”
Although Powerwolf would not present any songs from their debut album (2005’s Return in Bloodred) or their second album (2007’s Lupus Dei), there was plenty of other righteous material to keep their pilgrims satisfied, including “Amen & Attack” (Preachers of the Night, 2013) and “Armata Strigoi,” another gift from their sixth studio album Blessed & Possessed. In advance of the later piece, Attila humorously coached the audience to croon the anthemic (and rather complicated I might add) four-part chorus until we got it right, which we all did.
The subsequent quartet of songs were all selected from The Sacrament of Sin and included “Stossgebet,” “Demons Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” “Fire and Forgive” and Powerwolf’s first ever power ballad, “Where the Wild Wolves Have Gone.” While the fantastic audience continued to perform just as well as their Deutschland brethren, belting out lyrics in all the right places, our minds were officially blown when Powerwolf bestowed upon us the lead single to their ninth studio album (Interludium), set for release this Good Friday, April 7.
As the epic 18-song set entered the final stages, an encore was preceded by a glorious grouping of career-spanning tracks, including fan favorite and the third gift imparted from Blessed & Possessed, “Let There Be Night.” After Powerwolf exited the stage to quickly recharge their batteries, I was surprised to notice a throng of fans (albeit small) in the upper balcony heading for the exits – big mistake! Why you ask? Because an unforgettable, three song encore for the ages followed next, including back-to-back tracks from Powerwolf’s fourth studio album (Blood of the Saints), “Sanctified With Dynamite” and “We Drink Your Blood.” Sandwiched between these songs, Attila shared “This night showed me one thing my friends. All of you here are possessed with heavy metal! And I think I speak for everyone here in this venue, heavy metal, this music, gives us a lot of power and energy! And you my friends give us this energy back, and I appreciate that. In Germany, we say ‘vielen danke schön.’”
After splitting the crowd up the middle for a cheering match between each side of the stage (Matthew Greywolf versus Charles Greywolf), Attila promised us that they’d return and thanked their “best crew in the world.” As the night neared 10:30 pm, the religious experience was capped by 2009’s “Werewolves of Armenia” in grand fashion.
If you are able to join the pack, Powerwolf’s “North American Crusade” tour will resume in Dallas on March 20, followed by shows in Denver (March 22), San Francisco (March 24) and Los Angeles (March 25). On April 6, an exclusive “Interludium Release Show” will be performed at Palladium in Cologne, Germany. And to all the wolves out there, Metal is Religion!
Seven Kingdoms Setlist: Universal Terrestrial > Chasing the Mirage > The Water Dance > Valonqar > Love Dagger > Magic in the Mist > A Silent Remedy > The Boys of Summer (Don Henley cover) > Diamond Handed > In the Walls
Powerwolf Setlist: Faster Than the Flame > Incense & Iron > Army of the Night > Amen & Attack > Dancing With the Dead > Armata Strigoi > Beast of Gévaudan > Stossgebet > Demons Are a Girl’s Best Friend > Fire and Forgive > Where the Wild Wolves Have Gone > Sainted by the Storm > Resurrection by Erection > Blood for Blood (Faoladh) > Let There Be Night
Encore: Sanctified With Dynamite > We Drink Your Blood > Werewolves of Armenia
SEVEN KINGDOMS GALLERY