A few months ago, I went to an intimate three-day concert in the wilds of Germany. Many of the bands I saw I was already well-acquainted with, but there were a few groups I was unfamiliar with that I had heard good things about, and two of them inspired me to buy their CDs when I got back home.
Powerwolf - Preachers Of The Night
Powerwolf has one of the most generic power metal names possible, they wear facepaint and some of them dress in black versions of various Catholic clergy uniforms, three of the members have made-up names, all their songs seem to be about wolves, werewolves, blood, religion (plenty of Latin in song titles), or some combination thereof, and I loved their CD so much I listened to it four times instead of the usual two and it is still in my car. The religious bent also makes an appearance in the tone of the keyboards (a tinge of church organ) and the vocals (slightly operatic), which makes Powerwolf stand out from other bands in its genre. That part is very pronounced and perhaps as over-the-top as the band's visuals in the intro of the song Amen & Attack above, before settling down to a more typical level for the rest of the song. The guitars are fantastic (the speedy riffs after the vocal intro and then the solo are just glorious), but the vocals are the real standout - driving power with that operatic flavor here and there.
From what I have read, Powerwolf has been sticking to a formula, but their fifth album is my first, so I can't penalize them for that. I may be overrating the CD because of how great the first four songs are and listening to those tracks several extra times, but right now I am giving Preachers Of The Night and all its grand guignol glory an A.
Hey look, over to the left in the back, there I am!
Tristania - Darkest White
Tristania is a female-fronted symphonic metal band that also has an element that allows them to stand out from the pack. Most bands in their genre focus very heavily on the vocalist, but Tristania has a strong guitar sound, which I noticed from the start when I saw them perform in Germany. What I somehow overlooked (or was heavily minimized in concert) was the bits of growly male vocals, which are in at least half the songs on the album. I am very anti-growl, unless it is just an accent backing up the singing. I chose a song without growls here, and with the female vocalist coming in second, but it does feature the pronounced guitars and a different type of contrasting vocals that work much better for me. Overall, though, I didn't find any songs that jumped out at me demanding extra plays and there is just too much growling for me to go any higher than a C+.