Metal Review – Equilibrium: Rekreatur

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Metal Review – Equilibrium: Rekreatur
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Equilibrium: Rekreatur
Folk Metal, Viking Metal
Nuclear Blast Records
June 18th, 2010
Release length: 1:02:01
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Back in 2008, it was as if the Folk/Viking metal act Equilibrium came out of nowhere with blades held high. It was the first time many fans of the style got to experience the band through their full-length effort, Sagas, but that was not their debut, which featured a far stronger sound compared to their follow-up, which saw the band’s drummer and keyboardist depart. This left the album staggering a bit, but the band still forged on, and that’s the same story with Rekreatur, the group’s third full-length. Vocalist, and founding member, Helge Stang, had parted ways with Equilibrium, and so had Manuel DiCamillo, who had started drumming for the group to replace Markus Perschke. For Rekreatur, the band welcomes Robert Dahn of Vrankenvorde to vocal duties, and drummer Tuval Refaeli of Viscera Trail, and while it gives the band a little more steam, Rekreatur has it’s moments, but still not one of the stronger releases in the style.

For fans of Equilibrium from the start, this will be yet another let down of an album, as nothing on here can begin to compare to Turis Fratyr. However, for those who joined in around the days of Sagas, then some of the material here will make you happy, while other tracks simply won’t. Rekreatur is a very light-hearted sounding album, actually taking more ques from Finntroll then anything, but manages to execute that keyboard-style in an epic symphonic matter a la Dimmu Borgir. Of course, the changing of vocalists brings in a different approach, which is a decent rhaspy style, but right from the start, you’ll be lost on this vocalist. While his range is nice, it’s right at his start on “In Heiligen Hallen” that he seems to perform some lyrics completely off beat, as if he were singing them to another song entirely, and no one picked up on it. After that, the vocals stay consistent with the rest of the music, but he introduces and gutteral approach, which is the first style out of his mouth, and it’s a watery, gurgling sound that is actually very repulsive and simply does not suit the stylish Folk Metal being played. Granted, as a background vocal style to the rhaspier approach, it sounds great and becomes more forceful, especially since the rhaspy vocals are performed with little to no real energy behin them at all. If anything, these gutteral vocals deserve to be found on a Grindcore and/or Brutal Death Metal album then on this release.

Unfortunately, Rekreatur follows the same slower paced format through many of the songs on the album, and this causes many of the tracks to just become horribly drawn out at times. While the symphonic keyboards add a genuine epic element to the music, and they often sound great, sometimes it just cannot save the music. THe end of “In Heiligen Hallen” honestly shows the band at their best, and it really doesn’t last long at all. It’s a sudden burst of speed that is just so out of place and feels tacked on, just as the slower pace of the song reaches to the point where you can’t stand it anymore, and go to tear the disc out of your CD player (or the memory out of your MP3 player, whichever method you use to listen to your music). This leads into the faster “Der Ewige Sieg”, which features some good musicianship that stays consistent through much of the song, though it does eventually slow down into what sounds like a Folk Metal breakdown and doesn’t really need to be there at all. Of course, the Finntroll comparisons became more obvious here, as the keyboards sound like plagiarism, being very clearly taken from one of their albums, but eventually shifting things up a little more once you make it past the start of the song. Of course, while blending concepts from bands like Finntroll and even Korpiklaani, the song “Die Affeninsel” boggles the mind with the keyboards used, coming off as some kind of Folk tribute to China and Pokemon anime at times, leaving practically nothing to sound Folk until the music slows down and becomes more serious then before, leading to the garggling gutterals, then swapping in and out for a little while. Another odd thing about the album is the random dog bark effect added during the closing stretch of “Aus Ferner Zeit”, which sounds overly generic and is just pointless. The keyboards also seem rather odd on the song “Fahrtwind” [yes, I giggled at the name too] sound like something out a crappy Nintendo Entertainment System video game near the end of the song and clash horribly with their Folk/Viking Metal sound.

So, with all that said, if you’re curiosity is still peaked, Rekreatur actually has some good songs to it. Equilibrium bring some real energy to their music for the most part. There are times where the keyboards are left to push the song along, and while the keys work well with the music, on their own they often just don’t have enough of a kick to them to make them worth standing out. For what the album is, it’s well done, and features a good number of fun songs that mesh a seriousness into the mix that works well. “In Heiligen Hallen” and “Der Ewige Sieg” are fun tracks, though obviously nothing too special and come off as forgettable, but “Der Wassermann” has some nice melodies behind the odd-sounding regional keyboards utilized for the song, and acts as a more accessable track, being a more uplifting song then anything, especially with the keyboards for the chorus that sounds like they were taken from the Celine Dion hit “That’s the Way It Is”. Of course, outside the irritatingly random bark, “Aus Ferner Zeit” also makes for an enjoyable listen. However, all of these only come off as enjoyable mostly due to the fact that the band presents some energy in the album, and actually shows a good deal of talent in performing the music. These songs are good, but sadly, nothing that fantastic.

Rekreatur is definitely a step up from Sagas, but there’s still no denying it’s not one of the better Folk and/or Viking Metal releases out there. The more epic sound the band creates is something that makes them stand out, yes, but the problem is that many of these epic moments brought on by the keyboards often sound like they have plenty of influence taken from other bands in the styles. The music itself simply isn’t that consistent either, though the retain a general foundation that sounds similar, as well as does manage to keep the overall atmosphere, but the problem is that there’s often too much going on in the music, and the band seems to be pulling the music in different directions throughout each songs. In the end, Rekreaur really isn’t one of the strongest in the style, but it does show Equilibrium maturing as a group, just at a slow, steady pace, making up ground lost from their first devastating line-up change.

01. In Heiligen Hallen – 6:11
02. Der Weige Sieg – 4:16
03. Verbrannte Erde – 5:43
04. Die Affeninsel – 5:08
05. Der Wassermann – 6:32
06. Aus Ferner Zeit – 9:21
07. Fahrtwind – 4:49
08. Wenn Erdreich Bricht – 6:59
09. Kurzes Epos (Instrumental) – 13:02
Initial Pressing Score: 5.5/10

Equilibrium
Equilibrium

Digital review copy of this release provided by Nuclear Blast Records.