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Powerwolf - 'Blood Of The Saints' (metal blade) 5/5

I've got a real soft spot for the big Teutonic epic power-metal stuff. I've loved it ever since I first discovered the likes of Helloween and Mercyful Fate way back in the 1980's (Yes I know MF are Danish, but lets not split hairs here). I was over the moon when Dignity scooped our Album of The year award a few years ago with their Project Destiny album, and just when I was getting a bit fatigued by the endless wave of metalcore wannabes I was being sent, along come the mighty Powerwolf to remind me, and the world in general that metal is at its best when given the vast epic treatment.

This is the fourth album from these Germano-Romanian gods of steel, and it is faultless. From the atmospheric opener of Angus Dei to the closer of Ira Sancti (When The Saints Are Going Wild), Blood of The Saints is one full on, gloriously over blown, epic work that is as vast in concept as it is in delivery. Choirs chant layer after layer of harmonious backing vocals, church organs duel with freak out guitar solos and the middle of it all, standing like proud metal guardians of the wolfs den of rock are the band themselves, laying down some of the best epic metal thunder I've heard since Manowars Triumph of Steel album.

Like their earlier releases there are lots of Werewolf references on this album, and there is nothing at all wrong with that, the world needs a lot more Lupine-metal anyway. But it isn't all howls at the moon stuff. There is a wonderful cleaver and tongue in cheek approach to the lyrics, just check out Sanctified By Dynamite, Dead Boys Don't Cry and Murder At Midnight to see exactly what I mean.

I've had this album for a few weeks now, and I just can't stop playing it, over and over at very loud volumes (my neighbours must love me). I'm sure if you give this album one play through you'll be doing the same.

One of the best metal albums of the year so far.

For Fans Of... ManOwar, Mercyful Fate, Dignity, Helloween, Turisas etc

Arcite - 'We Lie Awake' (self released) 4/5

Geordieland (Newcastle-On-Tyne to you non English readers) has a fine metal tradition, in the past its given us the likes of Tygers Of Pan Tang, Venom, Warfare, Skyclad, Sabbat, Atomktaft and of course Raven, and now we can add Arcite to this honour role.

This self released 5 track ep is a bit of a killer. It's brutal, aggressive and superbly delivered. Even the weakest track on offer, the opener Asylum, is a bludgeoning wall of riffage that takes no prisoners, and it gets better from there. By the time you get to the midway point of In My Family Arcite are sounding like Cradle of Filth on steroids as they lay down a relentless barrage of brain crushing thrash and throat rotting growled vocals. However this eps real gem is the closer  In Taylor's Eyes - a full on metal assault of the ear drums that wouldn't sound out of place on a Malefice album, and when the singer cuts the growling and suddenly goes into an almost melodic ascending sixths section you get a real shiver down the spine. This track alone is worth tracking this ep down for and should become seen in future years as something of a classic.

I am amazed that this rather talented band are still unsigned, (Where are Transcend when you need them?) but I can't see them staying that way for long. Highly Recommended

For fans of... The More I See, Sacred Mother Tongue, Malefice, Revoker...