Which side of me will win?

Metalcamp 2011: HU! HA!

Powerwolf are one band that both Ash want to see. Neither of us knows much about them though. The main draw, for me at least, is their name. It has everything you could want from a metal band name – power and wolves. That’s kind of like the band naming equivalent of a meal of bacon and ham.

We head for the main stage about fifteen minutes before they’re due on and it doesn’t seem like many Metalcampers are as interested as we are. Maybe they’re no good? I do see an encouraging sign though – among the people that are here waiting for Powerwolf the ratio of Manowar T-shirts is noticeably high.

I also spot a couple of people wearing Powerwolf T-shirts, emblazoned on the back with the slogan ‘METAL IS RELIGION’. Brilliant. I have the feeling I’m going to enjoy this… and I’m right.

Powerwolf are fucking fantastic. The songs are heavy, epic, upbeat hymns in praise of vampires, werewolves and heavy metal, and the band themselves are dressed as heavy metal priests with bold, black and white make-up on their faces. They’re funny too but the songs, despite having names like Resurrection By Erection and Sanctified With Dynamite, are far too good to call them a joke band.

The running theme through everything they do is that, just like the T-shirt says, metal is religion. I love this idea because it’s doubley subversive and, as far as I’m concerned, it’s true.

This is a genuine photograph of my national census form from this year. I did not put that as a joke.

Metal and religion are traditionally enemies, with each condemning the other as nothing but a source of evil. But both sides of this divide tend to forget what religion actually is, treating religion and religious institutions as one and the same thing, which they are not.

Powerwolf’s marrying together of the aesthetic traditions of both heavy metal and the Catholic church – with some Romanian horror folklore thrown in to spice things up – is a brilliant ‘fuck you’ to entrenched views that exist on both sides. Like they’re saying, “Look! Each of you is much more like the other than either of you wants to admit – if you’d only look past all the handed down bullshit you both keep clinging to.”

That’s my take on it anyway. The bottom line is that they fucking rock and really know how to entertain. Ash and I agree that they’re the best band we’ve seen at Metalcamp so far, and that initially modest crowd has grown considerably by the time they’re finished.

By the way, that little girl sitting on her daddy’s shoulders up at the top of the page – she headbanged and threw the horns all the way through Powerwolf’s set. This is clearly awesome.

I bought a Powerwolf T-shirt as soon as they finished and have since bought their entire back catalogue on CD  – they’re just as good as I remember them being. As I said several chapters ago, Metalcamp is about collecting new favourite bands, and Powerwolf remain my absolute favourite Metalcamp discovery.

Here’s their best song, which was immense live thanks to some skilfully orchestrated audience participation ensuring that the HUs and the HAs were as loud as possible…


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