Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Powerwolf: Preachers of the Night (2013)

Res Ipsa Loquitur

Review--or, rather, an argument--by joanismylover, the third metal attorney.

The issue on this review is why anyone would listen to Powerwolf. The elements that constitute heavy metal music are at least one of the following: 1. swagger that snaps necks and/or dual guitar harmonies that invoke Wayne's World air guitar outbreaks; 2. "dangerous" or at least a little sinister, or, in the alternative, transcendent and uplifting amid thunder or sludge; or, 3. fucking loud.^^ The rule assumes the heavy metal music is purveyed by at least one guitar and actual drums, bass being helpful and keyboards being muted or hidden backstage, a la Dio in the early 80s.* This review will argue that Powerwolf - and by extension a great deal of European "power" "metal" - is not heavy metal at all, having no swagger, lacking danger, and not being very loud.

Preachers of the Night has no swagger. Period. It is axiomatic that heavy metal is, at its core, loud blues.** The blues is a form of music developed by African Americans in the deep south, from "shouts, chants and narrative ballads" and was "a form of music using a 12 bar chord progression ... and employing distinctive “blue notes”, slightly at odds with notation Western Classical Music."*** Preachers is about as far away from the blues as possible. This is not a record to which the listener will bang his head. (See tracks 1-7 of Clutch, Pitchforks and Lost Needles (2005) for swagger and metal stomp). Nor will she want to drop everything and fret away a guitar solo or two. (See Maiden, Iron).

The author accepts that Powerwolf did not intend Preachers to be "dangerous" or "sinister". But he thinks they might have thought the "metal" music transcendental or uplifting. Powerwolf would be most certainly wrong in this regard. See, contra, Rosetta - Wake/Lift (2007) or Morne - Shadows. Nor is the attempted drama - sentiment? - a counter for the absence of other elements. Though when "compared broadly to other traditions of music, Western Classical Music tends to place more emphasis on harmony and less on rhythm," at its best classical music has drama that no other form of music - metal included - can match.^ See, generally, Beethoven; specifically, Verdi's "Requiem Mass, Confutatis".

Preachers is noisy and, infrequently, tuned low, but the music is not "loud" in any traditional sense of the word. See Motörhead, "Stay Out of Jail" from We Are Motorhead (2000) - aw fuck it - their whole catalog.

Lacking any of the elements, the reviewer concludes that Preachers is not heavy metal and should not be rated.

No rating.

^^The best have all three. See Slayer, Reign in Blood.
*The author accepts that the Hammond Organ is not, for purposes of heavy metal music, a "keyboard". See Blood Ceremony, generally, and "Oliver Haddo" from Living With the Ancients, 2011, specifically.
**Do you really need a cite for this? If so, see Black Sabbath.
***http://rateyourmusic.com/genre/blues, accessed 8/11/13.
^http://rateyourmusic.com/genre/Western+Classical+Music/, accessed 8/11/13

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