Equilibrium hit the world right in the face when Sagas was released a couple years ago and they really became a folk metal (pagan metal, viking metal, whatever the fuck you want to call it) sensation. And sensational is really how many people experienced that record. It was like a cross between Finntroll, Ensiferum, Turisas and Rhapsody of Fire: unceasingly melodic, over-the-top, ridiculously happy and engaging as hell. In 2010, now, this elite German act is returning with a follow-up to what is already considered to be a classic in the genre, with their third record entitled Rekreatur. How could it possibly live up to all the expectations?
To answer my rhetorical question: it can’t. I really enjoyed Sagas quite a bit for it’s upbeat songs, varied vocal performance and its not-so-original but pretty interesting take on modern power metal influenced extreme metal. It was fun to listen to with infectious tracks like “Blut Im Auge” and “Die Weide Und Der FluÃŸ”, and a feeling of something new and something really exciting. If there’s something that Rekreatur lacks it’s really that feeling. While the tracks are chalk full of fantastic folk melodies and ideas, this record lacks the same kind of passionate feel that Sagas had.
Let’s not kid ourselves, however, there are still some pretty shining moments on here. It’s not like Equilibrium has started to suck over night. “Der Ewige Sieg,” for example, is a great example of what the band does so well; building up racing, happy melodies at the beginning of the track which litter the track with a catchy melody and a rhythm that doesn’t have to work hard to induce headbanging at all. While it might sound exactly Finntroll, it’s still done with the kind of conviction that one expects from Equlibrium. “Die Affeninsel” is another speedy track with a ridiculously happy introduction, that as of today is pretty funny because it kind of reminded me of the African instrumentation that certain TV stations have been using for their introduction music in the airing of the World Cup. But again these tracks show the band at their best and are definitely worth your time.
Where the band drags is in the slower tracks and parts that just feel sort of boring and rehashed. “Wenn Erdreich Bricht,” for example, lags and leaves the listener feeling almost entirely bored before what should be the emotional peak of the record “Kurzes Epos”, which while powerful at parts is really nothing special overall. Instead, one gets the feeling that Equilibrium is doing an impression of themselves. Working hard to write songs that sound like Equilibrium songs, instead of just taking to it all with a joy for fast, melodic heavy music.
If you’re a die hard fan of the band I suspect you’ll like this record but be disappointed compared to Sagas. If you’re not a fan, then I suggest you check out Sagas or Istapp‘s Blekinge which is also very heavily melodic black metal influenced material that really drives you to want to drink some beer, headbang and break out your wallet for some merch. Rekreatur, in the end, just disappoints. And it’s a shame, because I was really looking forward to getting my hands on this album.