Powerwolf - German Transylvanian Hunger
By: Alon Miasnikov & Amit Liber
Interview With: Falk Maria Shlegel (Keyboard / Organ), Powerwolf
Germany's Powerwolf are not your typical European melodic metal band, the band's image and lyrics delve deeply into the macabre world of horror more frequently associated with Norwegian black metal bands. We spoke with the band's keyboardist / organist Falk Maria Shlegel about the band's latest release - Lupus Dei, their music, and about wolves, a lot of wolves...
Hey Falk, I'd like to start with Lupus Dei, how well was the album received since it came out?
Very, good. We got fantastic reaction of the press and we get so much awesome emails and positive reactions by the fans... So a big thank to the wolf maniacs out there.
What does the title mean?
It´s Latin and means "Wolf of god". Lyrically "Lupus dei" is a concept album about heavy metal and religion. The wolf himself is the protagonist, and he walks though hell and back on this album. Descending into the depths of purgatory in the introduction "Lupus daemonis" he loses belief, denies god and gets infiltrated by evil spirits. He witnesses the apocalypse rising "Prayer in the dark", believes in nothing but bloodfever anymore ("In blood we trust") and is hunting for souls as the devil in disguise "Saturday Satan". The last three songs of the album, which represent the holy trinity (Father, son and holy ghost) the wolf finally sees the light and witnesses god in the final opus "Lupus dei".
I understand it's a concept album, what's the story behind it?
It is first of all the combination between Heavy Metal and religion. I’ve mentioned it already... Heavy Metal is religion, it is a lifestyle. Look at all the Metal maniacs all over the word. It is not only music.
Some of the song titles are quite weird, what does "Saturday Satan" mean?
One day our guitarist found a flyer of a religious group in his mailbox. They cautioned against Satan, who takes possession of the young girls, when they are visiting rock concerts on Saturday. We decided to make a song about that: the young people should be careful otherwise Satan will eat their souls for breakfast, ha, ha.
Who is the "Tiger Of Sabrod"?
The Tiger if Sabrod was the last free living wolf in eastern Germany. The wolf was haunted almost five years and than killed. This wolf is the protagonist on "Lupus dei"... The story behind that I’ve mentioned already in the second question.
I understand it was released as both a regular edition and a limited one, what's the difference between the two?
It is simple: the limited edition is a digipack, with special effects and three videoclips. So hurry up, to get this first edition, ha, ha, ha.
Back in time, how did you guys start out? Where did you play before the band?
Well the band was formed by accident or maybe destiny, ha ha.... That’s now four years ago. Charles and Matthew spent a few days in Romania. Just visiting the country and relaxing. One evening they met that strange guy in a pub. They started talking about music and about their plans to complete an own band. Finally Attila asked them for their phone number, just in case he’d come to Germany. When the guys came back home they had a message on our answering machine. It was Attila Dorn who told them that next week he´d come to Germany to visit some relatives who live there and he’d come around to make some music together. Well, and the rest is pure magic: Stefane and me came to the band and we started playing music together and it was exactly that special thing we were looking for such a long time. We all made different side projects but Powerwolf is our first band together.
How was the name of the band decided?
What the band name concerns it is clear: the name of the brothers Charles and Matthew and the wolf as a strong animal in the Romanian mythology.
What exactly is the concept behind the band? Werewolves? Vampires?
On "Return In Bloodred" the lyrics were influenced by Attila and his love for the Romanian mythology. The concept of "Lupus..." is different. We are a very spiritual band and "Lupus dei" is like a catharsis for us.
How does that translate to a live set? What kind of theatrics do you use?
We want to transport this sacral feeling on stage with certain clothes, backdrops and light effects. For us Metal demands a horror image. I don't see a point in all this happy metal stuff - come on - metal should be evil!
The wearing of corpse paint as you do, and the use of such dark imagery is something more typical to black metal, do you think you would fit in with that genre's fans?
We want to break through certain bounds for a certain Metal scene. Why shouldn’t we do that? Because we are playing Heavy Metal? No! We want transport the atmosphere from the album on stage and that is not possible by wearing boring blue jeans and a chemise...
Beside off that, we want to celebrate a Heavy Metal show !!
You seem to draw heavily from horror icons, what films or books influenced your concept of the band?
It is quite different in band. Attila likes this vampire stuff. Matth and me read a lot of things in the Bible.
The music on the new album has some power metal elements, but it mainly sounds closer to traditional heavy metal, Iron Maiden and such, how would you describe it?
"Lupus dei" is much more intense, more horror and more metal than the wolf has ever been before. And we added a lot of spiritualism to our music. We even recorded parts of the album in a chapel built in the 12th century to invoke a special atmosphere. We invited a classical church choir to sing on some songs, and Falk Maria finally realized his devilish idea to integrate a church organ in the sound of Powerwolf, which makes our sound much more evil and passionate.
I don’t really know. We are all (beside Attila) Metal addicts for fifteen years now. We all like this NWOBHM stuff but I love also rock bands like Deep Purple, of course for an organ player, ha,ha... Listen to the timeless refrains of Iron Maiden or Black Sabbath, that’s great... But I also think, that we are different to many German power metal bands. Especially that we use an organ and a quite not typical metal shouter... it is "old school heavy metal with a huge doom feeling and rock elements", yeah, that sounds good, ha,ha. On the other side, Attila’ s most musical influence is the classical opera stuff.
I read in your website that Stefane, your drummer, had health issues, what happened and how is he now?
He is fine again. He had some bad problems with his back and wasn’t able to play the festival show with Ross the Boss. But it was necessary to play this show, because many fans had have a long travel to the show. So we did only two rehearsals with Tom Firespider who replaced Stefane on this evening.
Your website also mentions a thing where you guys and Nocturnal Rites got lost during a tour with Gamma Ray, what happened there?
That was when we played in Barcelona. The after show party was quite "heavy" and Stefan and me decided to visit the "Sacra familia" in the middle of the night... we reached the top of the building... the Police was very friendly... and drove us back to the Nightliner.
What kind of touring is planned for you guys now?
We will play some festival shows and do a tour with the great Candlemass. After that, we will play some gigs with Grave Digger.