Equilibrium
Armageddon

Germany’s Equilibrium has resided atop the viking/folk metal hill for a while now, with 2005s Turis Fratyr and  2008s Sagas remaining two of the very top albums in the genre. And while Rekreatur was a transitional solid release after a line up shift, the band stormed back with Erdentempel in 2014. So now here with album number 5, and there appear to be some issues surfacing with Equilibrium.

While the album is still unmistakably Equilibrium, the band appear to be trying to reinvent themselves a little, and spreading their wings and ambition outside of their usual realms. Not to say this is a completely different album from past efforts, but it is definitely a more restrained, serious and less bombastic, bouncy album. The hall mark elements are still somewhat present in the band’s epic keyboards and campy, melodic take of folky black metal, but there are far less happy, catchy and memorable rousing moments, even if the overall  mood suits the albums central theme.

After the spoken word intro “Sehnsucht” you get “Erwachen”, as flat and as plain Equilibrium track as I’ve ever heard, and far from a attention grabbing album opener. “Katharsis” finally gets the album going proper with a nice mid paced romp and just when I think we are back, Equilibrium drop “Heimat”, a virtual pop song and the now infamously bad “Born to be Epic” (at least in folk metal circles), with a chorus/breakdown/techno ho-down thing that has to be heard to be believed.

“Zum Horisont” and “Rise Again” offers some redemption as the album’s most blistering enjoyable and throwback tracks, and I think the album might recover. But then we get 4 long, serious, and slower ballad style tracks in “Prey”, ‘Helden” (with an eight bit video game music break) , dreary instrumental “Koyaaniskatsi” and the dull. drawn out 7 minute closer “Eternal Destination”. I get the message here, “man bad”, but I listen to Equilibrium to lift me up, not bring me down.

Even with tracks like “Katharsis”, “Zum Horisont” and “Rise Again”, there is nothing on Armageddon that comes close to the likes of “Uns’rer Flöten Klang”, ““Wirsthaus Gaudi”, “Wurzelburt” ““Ruf In Den Wind”  “Snuffel” or “Heimwarts”. Not even close, and that is a huge disappointment for me (and my daughter, who loves those songs). And while I respect Equilibrium’s effort to be a little more ambitious and creative, Armageddon ends up being quite a large let down and step back from their previous albums.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
September 19th, 2016

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