Can anyone truly say when the right time is to release a “best of” compilation? Even “greatest hits” means something completely different to what it did in times gone by but for Powerwolf the time is now that they unleash a collection after a seventeen year, seven album career so far. There is something different going on here though, it feels different, Best Of The Blessed does not just seem to be a ‘throw it out there’ compilation for the sake of it that is supposed to fill a gap between albums. While it is true that Powerwolf’s last album The Sacrament Of Sin was released in 2018 and the world could possibly be looking – in less global pandemic circumstances – towards more new music from the German quintet, Best Of The Blessed is a celebration of a band on an upward curve.
From their beginnings in Saarbrücken, Germany and Powerwolf’s formation in 2003, this curious act that operate under pseudonyms, wears corpse paint, is obsessed with Transylvanian mythology, legends and werewolves. Powerwolf even deftly manage to give the usual power metal tropes a brush off by delivering their metal with a gothic sheen. And with some success. Powerwolf may not have made much of a dent on the charts for their first couple of albums but since 2009’s Bible Of The Beast began to make headway in their homeland. 2013’s Preachers Of The Night was no only the band’s first number one album in Germany but the point where the rest of Europe began to catch on and proving that it was not a fluke, The Sacrament Of Sin also hit the top spot in Germany.
All that being said, it is not an easy feat to view compilation albums without some cynicism from a viewpoint of the listener and their expectations. Compilations are a massive benefit to the new recruits and anyone that has just dropped onto to a band – to that end Best Of The Blessed is worth every single penny. Covering their entire career, the studio set truly is a ‘best of’, a musical tome, a welcome to the wolf’s den, raised horns to sacrilege and a journey with one of Germany’s most successful heavy metal bands.. But what about the die hards that already have every song already? To be fair to Powerwolf, it seems that they have indeed thought of this and while there may not be any new tracks per se, no unheard bonus songs dragged from the vault, the band has instead decided to re-energise seven of their songs for the purpose of this compilation. Of these new versions – We Drink Your Blood, Werewolves Of Armenia, Saturday Satan, Resurrection By Erection, Sanctified With Dynamite, Kiss Of The Cobra King and In Blood We Trust – rather than a wild reconstruction, they are crisp and have a little more beef attached that does not detract from the original versions. This is not to say that these re-recorded are the standouts either, this compilation is right on the nose as to its song choices taking a wide angle view of an incredible career so far and even when a power ballad such Where The Wild Wolves Are is still metal – you know that this is a band that knows how to write a song.
The real bonus is the extra discs in the limited edition versions of the album. Powerwolf is a legendary live band, and if their 2019 Bloodstock performance is anything to go by, they have what it takes to be headlining such an event in the near future. With one part metal mass and with an injection of humour, it is mesmerising to watch Powerwolf work a crowd. While vocalist Atilla Dorn has no trouble being front and centre, keyboardist Falk Maria Schlegel is pure gold, regularly leaving his instrument to join Dorn in the crowd festivities. Granted, this is a visual experience that cannot necessarily be captured on a live record but the crowd interaction can be heard loud and clear – which can be a bit of an issue with live albums. The recording of this live show is seriously good, the energy is terrific and it is such a playable album that it massively contributes to this exceptional 2 CD exceptional package; as much as a live visual performance would have been great, this set is still a fantastic addition to any collection.
Powerwolf is everything that is great about metal. The theatricality, the escapism, excellent musicianship and performance and not taking things too seriously – this band does have it all and Best Of The Blessed is more than a celebration of those facts.