On July 16th, 2021, the high priest of heavy metal, Powerwolf, returns with their aptly titled new album, ‘Call of the Wild,’ which will be released via Napalm records. Now up for pre-orders at this link. The album is going to be a new and exciting chapter for Powerwolf.
Along with the classic party-style songs that we all expect and love, the band is also heading into some new territory with some folk metal like inspired Celtic instrumentation on songs like “Blood for Blood (Faoladh)”, and an amazing ballad, ‘Alive or Undead.’
The band is looking to reach an all-new level with this album, and excitement among fans is building as they will unleash the beast this week.
Shortly after the announcement, I caught up with Keyboardist Falk Maria Schlegel, to talk about what we can expect from the new release, and when we can expect to finally see them on tour, post-pandemic.
Thanks for speaking with me! Back in April 2020, you guys started working on “Call of the Wild”. This announcement came right as the lockdowns began going into effect. What was the writing and recording process like during the pandemic for you?
I wouldn’t say that the pandemic had an impact on our songwriting process because we had already planned to write after the South American tour. And we had to cancel these shows, and we got the last flight back from Mexico City to Germany. So that had already been the plan all along.
But to be honest, I was a little bit naive. I thought it was going to be short, and we would be playing that Summer. After we recognized that it could be longer, and with the travel restrictions, we focused even more on the songwriting process because we now had this summer break.
We normally would go out during the festival season and get some energy out and give some back, and now, we didn’t have that. Because of that situation, we felt that now more than ever, we had to deliver a powerful album.
The first single off the album, ‘Beast Of Gévaudan,’ tells the story of a man-eating half-wolf, half-dog hybrid. Can you tell us a little bit more about the story and what made you decide to choose this track as the album’s lead single?
What I would say about the album overall is that it’s very dynamic with different elements and different paths, which is different from the previous album. And then I would say this is one of the songs that we have that features great storytelling, as you mentioned. ‘Beast Of Gévaudan’ is about a French legend from the 18th century, and it was located in the south of France.
The legend, ‘La Bête du Gévaudan’ is about this bear-wolf or whatever, and the people there were scared, of course. And they tried to hunt it for years but never caught him. Then comes the link and connection to other religions. It was told to the people that this is a beast sent by God as revenge and punishment, and there was a bible quote about how animals would be sent.
So as you can see, we have both connections to the topics as the legend and some aspects of religious history. And we thought that we should release this one first, to tell the story. So we did the video, and we were excited to show the fans our first new song. That’s always exciting.
Something that’s always great about Powerwolf albums, is that they seem like more than just conventional records. Especially because of a bonus in the deluxe edition featuring guest musicians performing some of your other tracks. You also got some exceptional names on there, from Alissa White-Gluz of Arch Enemy to Johan Hegg of Amon Amarth and Chris of Alestorm. How did the concept come to be? And where did you first get the idea of having guest musicians cover some of your own songs?
The first thing I’d like to say about any of our albums is that we always want to have a good bonus. It’s something that we’ve done in the past, by having other artists and vocalists cover our songs. And it’s nice to have them give it their own twist. Like when we toured with Amon Amarth, we were really close with those guys. And one morning after a great show, I ask if he would sing one of our songs.
At that time, it was just something to have; it wasn’t something that was going to be used for compilation or anything like that. And he said yes, and it was easy for him as he was living by a studio in Sweden. And then we started thinking about how we have a lot of friends in the scene and a lot of good vocalists around us, and we just started to ask.
For example, Matt Heafy from Trivium, we met him back at Wacken Open Air, I don’t exactly remember what year that was, but he was a Powerwolf fan, and he said he liked our music, and he asked if he could do a song, and we were like, ‘yes, of course, you can.” So then he rehearsed and recorded it on Twitch live, which was really nice to see. This shows that were all really close to each other, and a lot of heavy metal bands want to work togather. We are like a family or something.
That’s really awesome, and as you said, the community really is like one giant family. The album art for “Call of the Wild,” which was done by Zsofia Dankova, is visually nuanced and quite stunning. With the Wolf and scales of power tipping in favor of the demons. Are any of the visual elements representing any of his songs on the album and the music itself?
I wouldn’t say it’s particularly for one song. I think it shows that not everything is black and white in everyday life. There are a lot of grey tones. And while it shows that maybe evil has won one day, things might be different the next day. It’s something that can change every day. And of course, the artwork shows that Powerwolf is back! And when you look at it, you just see more and more detail. Such as the Angels for example, and if you look closely, you can see some weird faces. It’s just amazing artwork.
With a blend of storytelling of historic nightmarish creatures, party songs, and the fantastic ballad that is ‘Alive or Dead’, the album seems to be a labor of love that fans will enjoy. What do you hope that listeners take away from the album?
“Call of the Wild’ is a very fast, strong, and powerful album. The ballad that you mentioned, ‘Alive or Dead,” is something we put in the middle of the album so that you could take a short pause from everything else. It’s about what we like, what we love, and those invisible forces that keep us going, like it’s larger-than-life.
And we just want to deliver some good feelings to those listening to our music, especially as a live band. We want an album that sounds like it could be a live album, which of course it is a studio album, but you can imagine every song in a live situation. If you know what Powerwolf shows are like, they’re filled with energy, and we want to deliver that experience.
Which is what we hope the listeners can take until we can see each other again. For me, there’s nothing more exciting than a room full of people listening to our music and us doing what we really love. The energy of a live concert is very important to me.
Yeah, it’s important to perform it and share it live with your fans, and an album that can make you want to feel those emotions in a live setting is something special.
With such a rich discography and so many fan-favorite tracks, how difficult do you think it’s going to be to write a setlist when you end up going on tour to promote this album?
It’s quite difficult when you have written songs for eight albums. And it only gets more difficult with each new album. Even as a headliner with over two hours of material to fill. And it’s hard for us as a band to discuss what songs were going to play live, and which ones we should use. But the thing is, I’m the master of the setlist, because I’m the one writing it!
That means I make a final decision. There will be times when I write the list down and everyone will be like, “what’s that, why is this song first, I never seen this”. And it’s already been printed. But we also change the setlist for every show while on tour. Nothing’s always carved in stone, sometimes we change it a lot.
For example, it’s quite obvious that “Faster than the Flame,” will be the new opener on tour, but then there’s also our tradition with “Fire & Forgive” and ‘Sanctified with Dynamite.’ We are so close to each other, and we’ve been really good friends for years, but there’s always a big fight when it comes to the setlist, and I love it. (laughing)
Thanks so much for speaking with me. We’re excited for the album and can’t wait to see you on tour both in the U.S, hopefully, and the European tour. Is there anything else you’d like to say to the fans?
Yes, we hope everyone will listen to the album and enjoy it. And we do have some plans for some shows and some stuff in between. And we hope to get to the U.S someday soon.