Every once in a while one hears a single that’s so outlandish that you need to listen to the whole album. This was very much the case when “Werewolf of Steel” was released by CARNAL AGONY. The single is from the independent album, “Back from the Grave,” which was self-released on July 10th, 2020. When power metal meets pure cheese, you know it’s going to be worth checking out.
Intro track “The Rebirth” begins the album with sharp drumming and leads quickly into the title track, a stylistic surprise after only having heard the more melodic style used in the single. “Werewolf of Steel” appears to be the exception to the vocal rule on “Back from the Grave,” as the gritty vocals continue into “The Cellardoor.” There’s a bit of classic heavy metal in the guitars, but the vocal style does contrast somewhat unpleasantly with the melodic nature of the album’s Swedish production style. The song is upbeat and fun at least.
“The Witching Hour” has a slower marching pace and deeper vocals, but though it’s got a bit of cheeky fun to it, it does get a bit repetitive after a while. The album takes a turn for the melodic with the polished, cheesy “Werewolf of Steel.” With a name that sounds like bad MANOWAR and lyrics that make about as much sense as ducks on the moon, this song is so silly that it’s too subjective to say whether anyone would love it or hate it, but I will say that you should listen to it because it’s worth hearing once, for better or for worse.
“Luna” has a vague feeling of SONATA ARCTICA lingering in the sound, as well as some of the most melodic soloing on the album. “For the Horde” is appropriately gritty, with a cheesy chorus – hopefully there are no fans in the Alliance, as this has a hefty Warcraftian feel. Meanwhile, “Love Will Tear You Apart” has some very ’80s synths leading a simple beat, with cleaner vocals singing some really silly lyrics.
“Higher” has a pretty basic melody and rhythm, as well as lyrics, though the cleaner singing style is again more welcome than on earlier tracks. Drums open “The Nightmare Never Stops,” with the guitar taking the lead this time. This campy track is a little more varied in sound but a bit on the simple side musically, even though it’s pretty catchy.
There’s another werewolf-y track in “Bane of the Light,” which sounds more or less on par with the rest of the album, but leads into the most fast-paced and surprising track on the album, “Raise the Dead.” This track doesn’t have the best vocals on the whole, though the deep almost-growl in the chorus during “RISE!” is very effective and the speedy drums give this piece some extra oomph. The album then ends with “The Ascension,” a short outro that’s soft and melodic, bringing the full experience to an end.
It’s hard to put a pin in an album like this, as it’s difficult to determine how intentionally campy the songwriters may be. While the cheese factor certainly feels intentional, the biggest factor holding me back from enjoying the album was the raunchy amelodic vocals. The music is easily accessible and great for radio play, but most of the vocals don’t necessary match with that overall feel. Regardless, if you like a good dose of weird and wacky, this album may be worth putting on.
Written by Bear Wiseman
- The Rebirth
- Back from the Grave
- The Cellardoor
- The Witching Hour
- Werewolf of Steel
- For the Horde
- Love Will Tear You Apart
- The Nightmare Never Stops
- Bane of the Light
- Raise the Dead
- The Ascension
Mathias Wallin – guitars
David Johagen – vocals
Pär-Olof Persson – guitars
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