German newcomers Powergame recently self-released their debut album, ‘Beast on the Attack.’ While the disc appears to have flown beneath the radar of most, it is definitely worth a listen for fans of both the New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal and the time-honored German style popularized by the likes of Accept and Grave Digger, or even more recent exports like Stallion or Elvenpath. Devotees of bands like Paragon and Metal Inquisitor may find much to their liking in ‘Beast on the Attack.’ The traycard in the CD proudly proclaims “Raw Heavy Metal,” which is a fair and accurate description of the auditory contents therein.
Powergame’s strongest selling point is the dual guitars of Tobi and Mattes. Man, these guys are perfectly in sync with each other and have mastered the art of twin-guitar harmonies, strong riffs and that killer old-school tone. The eight songs on display are worth listening to just for the guitarwork, which is at all times rugged, powerful and melodic. Just listen to a track like the NWOBHM tribute “Back to the Ruskin Arms” or “City of the Dead” for examples of what I mean. The meaty riffs, the soaring harmonies … they’re all there. Perhaps the best word to describe Matty’s vocals is “idiosyncratic,” which is of course true of many of his countrymen as well. His main singing voice is a pleasant enough half-spoken, semi-tuneful shout that comes across as characteristically German but also effective. Where Matty pushes the envelope is on the thin, out-of-control shrieks that he employs sporadically in most songs (like his intonation of “Beware” in the chorus of the title track). Unfortunately, the results of those efforts are less pleasing to the ear. Still, Matty’s passion and enthusiasm can never be denied, and that counts for a lot. Many tracks feature gang vocals in the choruses, a nice effect (see “Rise of the Banshee”) that the band wisely does not overuse. Powergame even experiments a bit with Eastern musical and lyrical motifs on the seven-minute closing track, “Osiris Reigns.” The intro to one cut, “The Oppressor,” gets a little too close to “Hell Bent for Leather” for comfort, though it then thankfully morphs into something different. In general, I get a kick out of many of the lyrics, like in the title track where Matty describes the beast as follows: “The fangs are white / The claws are black” or in “Final Dawn,” where he laments “Right from our birth / Rainbows, love and unicorns is all we want to see.” Man’s got a point there.
The bottom line is that Powergame’s debut offering is focused squarely in the Keep It True / Frost and Fire style of old-fashioned heavy metal. It’s not the strongest 2015 entrant in this crowded field you’ll hear, but Powergame are onto something here. A bit worrisome, however, is the note in the booklet that guitarists Tobi and Mattes left the band right after the ‘Beast on the Attack’ recordings concluded. They were an integral part of Powergame’s sound, and Tobi wrote the music for “Final Dawn” and “Your Own Fate.” Still, I take heart in the facts that Matty was and is the primary songwriter, and he has already lined up replacements Frank and Michael, depicted in the booklet as well. Hopefully, Powergame won’t miss a beat with the new blood, and will focus their next record on refining their promising sound, smoothing out some of the rough edges, and making the necessary improvements to stand out in a congested marketplace. For now, though, ‘Beast of the Attack’ is easily recommended to adherents of old-school, unrepentant Teutonic steel.
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~