POWERWOLF are back with their upcoming release Sacrament Of Sin. The album has already been hailed as their boldest to date, even featuring the first ballad in their career. Having entered Fascination Street Studios, Sweden, in January this year, the album has quickly become highly anticipated. With the release dawning I spoke to guitarist Matthew Greywolf about the new album, their creative process and some special bonus material.
Sacrament Of Sin is due for release very soon and the album is great. When it came to making the album, what was the process behind making the album? Understandably it’s different for each band.
Matthew Greywolf: Well I would say when it comes to POWERWOLF, it’s the song titles that come first. So, when we start writing songs, we start singing hook lines around the song titles. That’s how we start writing the songs, we come up with a song with great hook lines that end up in your head for weeks. So, we arrange our song writing around that. That’s the way it works. I can’t imagine starting the song writing process by say, writing the guitar riffs first. For us the guitar riff doesn’t make the song, it’s the chorus line that people sing along to.
That would explain why POWERWOLF songs contain big choruses. Do you also take how fans will respond the songs in a live environment into account? Particularly when they sing along to these songs.
Matthew Greywolf: Sometimes yes and sometimes no. I mean when you write a chorus line of course you are going to think if it will be a great sing along in a live situation. I don’t think it’s bad during the song writing to imagine the song on stage but at the same time, sometimes you also have to think about what anybody would expect of the song. We are musicians that like to create songs and see what happens.
Talking of sing along songs, one of the album’s tracks Where The Wild Wolves Have Gone comes to mind. The first ballad for POWERWOLF. What was the inspiration behind the decision to write a ballad?
Matthew Greywolf: It was several years ago that I confessed to Attila that I am a huge fan of rock and metal ballads. Attila confessed the same thing. So that day we both agreed to write such a ballad, no matter what. Yet that was in the past and we felt we weren’t ready for it yet. When we started to write Sacrament Of Sin, we decided that the album would contain more of a variation of songs. We also took on a more open-minded song writing process. We felt that this was the moment, this was the right time to write such a ballad. The thing is it takes the right song title, the right mood, the right melody and the right topic to write a ballad. Regardless, it was the right time to write the ballad and it’s one of the highlights of the album.
Where The Wild Wolves Have Gone, did you take inspiration from any particular rock and metal anthems or was it a case of ‘let’s do this’?
Matthew Greywolf: I don’t think there was a specific ballad, I didn’t find there was a direct influence for it. When there is a basic idea for a song, we inspire each other like if I am working with Attila on a song.
Which of the new album tracks are you looking forward to playing live the most?
Matthew Greywolf: That is a pretty tough question, I mean because there are a lot of live songs on the album. With each album it doesn’t get any easier to compile a live set. I think from Sacrament Of Sin; the songs Incense And Iron and Kill Us With The Cross come to mind as great live songs. We’ll see, it’s getting harder and harder to include new songs in a live set as well as the classics.
Do you decide how many songs from each album are going to be part of the setlist?
Matthew Greywolf: There is no set formula to that. First of all, personal opinions from the rest of the band members come into the mix. For example, we hardly play any songs from our debut album because most of the fans don’t know the songs from that album. It also contains a more of a doom metal vibe so it would not work as well in a live situation as well as the more recent stuff.
Is it more difficult to compile a setlist for a short festival slot than compiling one for a headline tour?
Matthew Greywolf: Definitely, the worst case for 45 mins. It’s a hard task but then again, it’s easier. On a headline tour, I would feel bad if I left anyone feeling disappointed because we didn’t play their favourite song. At a festival, it’s more obvious which ones are going to satisfy all tastes. So, for festivals, everyone knows there is a compromise. There is a compromise with time and a compromise with the show since you can’t set up a proper show. It’s most important on headline tours that the setlist won’t leave fans feeling disappointed.
As part of the album release, there will be a special three disc edition. One of those being a covers CD, how did you guys go about picking the bands for this covers album?
Matthew Greywolf: Let me explain how the idea was born. It was a spontaneous thing; we toured with EPICAin 2017 and one day during soundcheck they played our song Sacred And Wild. During the after-show party, we asked them if they could imagine recording that. We originally didn’t have a covers album in mind, it was simply a case of that we liked their cover and we would like to hear it recorded. They were really up for it and liked the idea so they promised to do that. When we were back home from the tour, the idea started growing. We thought ‘What if we ask some more friends to do some covers. Back then, nobody thought that the idea would become a reality and now hear we are with ten cover songs. It’s been an amazing project.
Did you guys have specific bands for specific songs for this covers album?
Matthew Greywolf: Not really, with some of the bands they could pick any song yet with the other bands it was quite clear what they would pick to cover. For example, BATTLE BEAST chose Resurrection By Erection; we already knew they love the song. For the other bands it was a case of picking what they wanted and what we told all of the bands was that they were to choose a song and make it their own. Take the song along with the structure, melodies and be yourselves. It was pretty great because all of those bands are super creative and with their alterations it sounded like the band’s typical sounds.
Will any of these covers be released as singles?
Matthew Greywolf: I think it’s up to the bands who recorded those songs, they can decide whether to release them as singles or not. There might be some sort of lyric video for one or two of the songs but like I said, it’s up to the bands who recorded the covers so we will see what happens. The main intention behind the covers album was to give fans something extra to enjoy.
The other part of this album package is CD containing the orchestral versions of each of the new tracks.
Matthew Greywolf: We worked on the orchestration parts of this album with Yves Huts, who worked with EPICA. We had such a great time working with him. He had such a great creative process so we ended up with more orchestrations and choir recordings than we originally planned to use on the album. For the main album, we never intended for it to sound like a symphonic metal album. We planned to be a metal band where the orchestrations add spice to the soup. That’s why during the mix, we had to make some tough decisions about leaving out stuff from time to time or to feature some small parts of it in the mix. During the mixing process, we thought it would be a pity to drop so much great stuff. Being why we decided to create the orchestral album so fans can get a chance to listen to it. It also gave us more freedom to choose what was good and what didn’t work without overdoing it with the orchestration parts on the album.
Was it a local orchestra who provided the sounds?
Matthew Greywolf: Yves did all that in his studio in the Netherlands, he also recorded the choirs there. He does a lot of work with orchestras and choirs so it was a very exciting process to work with him and for him to be part of future projects that POWERWOLF will embark upon.
Would you consider having a live orchestra when you tour as part of your live shows?
Matthew Greywolf: Plans for that are currently in discussion but if we wanted to do this the proper way and not for just a gimmick, it is a project that needs a lot of preparation. I expect it would take almost the same amount of time to prepare an album. I also want to say that it needs to be the right time. Right now, it’s about touring with the new album and I don’t see orchestral stuff coming up in the near future but I think sometime in the future there are plans for something like that.
To round up, are there any particular places you are looking forward to playing on tour? That can be places you are visiting for the first time or looking forward to heading back to.
Matthew Greywolf: Well, this might sound like an excuse but I look forward to every show. Each show has it’s very own dynamic and see different aspects every time so I don’t want to point out any specific city or country because I see every day on tour as a new challenge. From the beginning we had this saying “Let’s play each show as if it could be our last” because tomorrow we could crash the tour bus and it will be our goal to make it the best show.
The Sacrament of Sin is set for release on July 20th via Napalm Records.
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