Powerwolf / Orden Ogan / Xandria

Power metal pack leaders go lupe-y in London Town

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Say what you like about power metal, but the unashamedly uncool subgenre is genuine, and lineups like tonight’s are always packed with a diverse and loyal following.

XANDRIA’s [6] leading lady Dianne Van Giersbergen’s corset may be tight, but she belts out their symphonic serenades with an operatic boom – and though they’re essentially Nightwish wannabes on a budget, the audience go wild. ORDEN OGAN [8] are a sight: burly, bearded Germans wearing makeshift Viking gear. They mix their folk-tinged, powerful tones with piss-taking: “Everyone laughs at this in Germany because it’s so fucking stupid,” deadpans their towering frontman Sebastian ‘Seeb’ Levermann.

Anyone unfamiliar with POWERWOLF [9] could be fooled by their exterior. The band arrive on a stage flanked by two huge, Edgar Allan Poe-esque gothic birds, and all members are clad in black and sporting corpsepaint. You’d be forgiven for thinking you were about to witness a black metal mass. But before you know it, the wind machines are blowing, their serious expressions have melted into manic grins and the title track from new album Blessed & Possessed is spinning the audience into a frenzy. Tonight is a raucous set of frantic, infectious power metal warbles about werewolves (Werewolves Of Armenia), vampires (All We Need Is Blood) and “religious themes” (Resurrection By Erection), with an interlude of Run To The Hills thrown into the mad mix.

Attila Dorn’s captivating, near-operatic voice perfectly suits their style, even if his Metalenglische interludes – “We are here to fight for heavy metal! For heavy metal against pop music!” – verge on the wrong side of comical. But when the audience chant, “We love you Powerwolf, we do!” he looks both bemused and ready to blub. The rest of the band are wildly theatrical, bounding back and forth between two sets of keyboards, roaring at and rousing the audience. Guitarists Matthew and Charles Greywolf mime the lyrics while wind machines melodramatically blow back their manes. Tonight proves that Powerwolf have their chosen genre down pat: pile on the gimmicks, make those catchy lyrics as ridiculous as possible and leave your decorum at the door.

Hannah May Kilroy

Hannah May Kilroy has been writing about music professionally for over a decade, covering everything from extreme metal to country. She was deputy editor at Prog magazine for over five years, and previously worked on the editorial teams at Terrorizer and Kerrang!. She currently works as the production editor for The Art Newspaper, and also writes for the Guardian, Classic Rock and Metal Hammer.