Equilibrium
Erdentempel

Sagas, the 2008 second album from Germany’s Equilibrium remains a hall mark of epic folk/Viking metal,  but the follow up Rekreatur, fell a tad short and we’ve had to wait four years for a follow up. Granted, last years Waldschrein EP was a nice teaser, if only for the (3 years too late) cover of the now famous Skyrim theme. So here we finally are, a new album and some time between albums to let the now not so new line up settle down, and boy have they. I’ve had Erdentempel in mys possession for a few weeks now, but its taken this long to review is because I cant get the goddamn smile off my face long enough to write something.

So there is epic and then there is EPIC (yep- all caps and Italics). But Equilibrium take it to the next level. While essentially continuing the heavly Finnish folk sound of Finntroll, Ensiferum and Turisas with a splash of Bal-Sagoth, the sheer level of uplifting, rousing, movie score quality, bombastic, bouncy and mother fucking catchy music on display on Erdentempel is down downright silly. It matches Sagas on almost all levels with the exception that Erdentempel has a couple of slower, lighter (phone?) swaying anthems instead of one long 13 or so minute track as they had on Sagas (“Mana”) and Rekreatur (““Kurzes Epos”). 

“Ankunft” sets the mood with a short instrumental intro before “Was Lange Währt”  starts the ride for real with a typical catchy synth laden canter, it’s a nice little taster of whats to come, but the short lived little trot at 2:34 is a harbinger of the stupid fun that follows. “Waldschrein” is taken from the prior EP and is just a downright fun little romp before “Karawane” slows things down with the album’s first mid paced lighter waver. It stops the building momentum a bit , but like a roller coaster, it’s a needed slow ride up the hill before Uns’rer Flöten Klang” delivers arguably the albums best cut, and one of the happiest most uplifting folk songs Iv’e heard. It’s  a ridiculously uplifting, flute driven jaunt and if the little flute-y breakdown at 3:47  to doesn’t make you smile or bounce your head, then you simply fail at life and metal.

“Freiflung” bring things back down to a more moody, somber pace, and while I question some of the momentum breaking slower songs, they do allow you to catch your breath and break up the raucous folk elements so they don’t get a repetitive and lose impact.  The next track, “Heavy Chill”  has a goofy but addictive little disco/reggae break  and sing along that shows the band certainly is having fun and not afraid to get a little silly within the confines of metal. Then another standout, “Wirsthaus Gaudi” canters into the fray with arguably the catchiest beer drinking song I’ve heard in years, using a traditional German folk/beer hall music backbone as its stupid catchy chorus. Again,I defy you not to smile or think about lederhosens  and steins of ale sloshing around.

“Stein Meiner Ahnen” features the fastest material the band has written driven by a bombastic, rousing, light speed orchestral opening and a simply rousing, choral close out to die for before “Wellengang” slows things down again. However, while a slower track, “Wellengang” does feature a fucking amazing main synth line, a sort of orchestral chorus that is simply brilliant and could be the main theme for any number of Hollywood sci fi/fantasy movie rivaling  anything Zimmer, Elfman or Shore has penned.

There is a little sense of lost steam for the album’s last two slower tracks. Despite “Apokalypse” being the band’s heaviest , most guitar driven and menacing song to date and “The Unknown Episode” closing things out with yet another lighter waving sing along ballad, I felt that “Wellengang” was the album’s natural stopping point, and I would have been completely happy with the album and rank it easily as one of the best folk metal albums of recent memory and the most fun I have had with an album in a long time.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
June 11th, 2014

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