Equilibrium
Sagas

Strap on your sandals and fur codpiece-its folk metal time. And what folk metal this is! Culling from the likes of Finntroll, Amon Amarth, Turisas, Bal-Sagoth and Ensiferum, Germany’s Equilibrium, after an already fantastic debut in Turis Fratyr, have released arguably the most complete, enjoyable, epic and down right brilliant folk metal album since Jaktens Tid and Ásmegin’s Hin Vordende Sod & Sø

Folks (and I’m referring to those of you wearing chain mail skirts right now), the likes of Eluveitie, Heidevolk, Arkona, Tyr and others have certainly released solid folk/Viking albums this year, but the truth is in sheer majesty, catchiness, and overall completeness, Sagas is just downright brilliant, it simply blows all other similar releases away from the last few years. It’s that good. Nope-it’s virtually perfect and the key to the perfection is the blend of blistering, melodic black metal riffs and vocals, earthy death metal vocals and synths that flow from bombastically high fantasy and truly ethnic/folky and a sublime sense of bouncy riff penmanship that knows what works and what to stick with at the risk of repetition.

After tantalizing intro “Prolog Auf Erden”, the ridiculously catchy “Wurzelbert” gets the album going for real with the formula that surfaces for pretty much every following track with a few exceptions. The next track, “Blut Im Auge” I had already heard from the Pagan Fire compilation earlier thus year, but it continues the bouncy ethnic flourishes. “Unbesiegt” has one of the albums few question marks with an odd tribal/jungle intro and mid section stuck in an otherwise outstanding, blistering track. “Verrat” turns up the intensity for a more of a stern death metal jaunt. Then, one of the many standouts, (all of the tracks are really) “Snüffel” takes the already fantastic formula and throws in a proggy, rock, 70’s vibe with a riff at 3:25 that makes me go into a Slain-like berserker mode. “Heimwärts” is this album’s equivalent of Turis Fratyr’s “Met”, a short but killer burst of Finntroll-ish humpa death metal.

“Heiderauche” finally offers an instrumental respite for your neck before the album’s closing tracks offer lengthier more introspective hues; the somber trio of “Die Weide Und Der Fluß”, “Des Sängers Fluch” and penultimate track “Dammerung” tone things down a bit only being broken up by my other favorite standout “Ruf In Den Wind”, which gallops with a still somber sense of energy.

Closer “Mana” is the album’s other slightly eyebrow raising moment, a fully fleshed out, sixteen minute, mid-paced, instrumental track that pushes the album over the 80- minute mark, essentially making the last third of the album, while still perfect, pretty morose compared to the rest of the albums bouncy grandiosity.

Ultimately though, Sagas has me grinning from ear to ear (under my helm of course), and will be a contender for album of the year. And depending on what Wintersun come up with next year, is the most stunning example of this style of music in recent memory.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
August 1st, 2008

Comments

  1. Commented by: swampthang

    ya know i like this band lots but i can just picture these vikes in pink leather and studded belts instead of spikes wristbands and upside down crosses.


  2. Commented by: Staylow

    After your raving about this in the forums, I had to check it out. After one solid listen, this definitely isn’t for me – seemed too “happy” sounding, but then again, I’ve never been into anything similar either.


  3. Commented by: Grimulfr

    By far my favorite song is the one Erik calls pretty morose. I can do without the rest of the campfire drinking songs.


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