Rebellion – We Are the People Review

Germany’s Rebellion isn’t what I’d call a thinking man’s metal band. That said, they’ve released two concept albums based on Shakespeare’s works (Macbeth and King Lear), and they’ve shown a penchant for tackling historical events and individuals over their career. On ninth album We Are the People, they’ve put down the classic English literature and gone deep into the annals of history for a wide-ranging analysis of nationalism, war, and man’s innate desire for freedom and liberty. As a big history buff and admirer of Enlightenment era philosophy, this kind of concept is 100% my manbag. To go along with this heady conceptual theme, the band decided to expand their style into new arenas this time out. Instead of their usual Accept-meets-Grave Digger fare, you get a way darker sound with fist pumping anthems sidelined in favor of explorations into quasi-doom, pseudo-death and faux-blackness. All these spicy new flavors spike the traditional metal punch hard, creating moments quite different from what I’ve come to expect from this Teutonic troublemakers. This kind of thing only goes one of two ways, folks….

It’s the worse of those outcomes, I’m afraid. After a mood-setting intro, you get a fat dose of classic Rebellion on “Risorgimento (Tear Down the Walls),” which isn’t the best the band ever offered, but it’s a decent representation of what they’ve done well over a nearly 20 year career copying Grave Digger. It’s driving and anthemic, full of simple, beefy riffing and rough, slightly cartoony metal vocals. In short, everything I love about these cats. Lead single “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité” is decent too, straight from the Rebellion playbook and the better for it, as Enlightenment era ideas are stitched onto a tale of the French Revolution with a modestly rabble rousing affair resulting. It’s after this somewhat solid start that the wheels start to come off the resistance. Following cuts like “Sweet Dreams” and “Vaterland” stumble badly, failing to offer memorable moments or keep the momentum going. This is a shame, as “Vaterland” may be the one and only metal song about the Prusso-Danish War, though I’m sure Sabaton will get around to making one eventually. Speaking of Sabaton, this one bears more than a little similarity to what those battle-hungry Swedes do in their sleep, but in a half ass way, which, considering Sabaton often doesn’t bring a full ass to the trenches these days, makes for a severe ass deficiency.

There are some semi-decent songs scattered across We Are the People, like the upbeat, fairly memorable “Ashes of Light” and the kinda-catchy title track, but there are some real dogs of war here too and these woofers really drag the album down. “Verdun” dabbles with doom death sounds and structures for a grim survey of World War I, but it just doesn’t work despite ominous riffs and eerie moments. “Shoa (It Could Have Been Me)” is a bad song about a terrible event in human history (the Holocaust), and its awkward, plodding delivery is a pain to endure over its far too long 7-minutes. “All in Ruins” runs into the same landmine and though it strives for a dark, gripping delivery, it’s just awkward and dull (and too long). At 54 minutes, the album feels way longer, and not in a good way. I respect the band’s attempt to shift their sound toward heavier vistas to suit the darker material, but it often doesn’t work for them and ends up sounding forced, overly dramatic, and silly.

With only 2 band members returning from 2018s A Tragedy in Steel Part II: Shakespeare’s King Lear, there was bound to be some growing pains, and brother, the pain is present. Reliably quirky vocalist Michael Seifert is still on board and does his best with the material, but he gets dragged into the mud trying to over-sing the uber dramatic cuts. This is not a good place for him to be. He’s essentially Grave Digger‘s Chris Boltendahl with a slightly broader range and with that palette you can’t get too creative and expect positive returns. The guitar-work from new axes Martin Giemza and Fabrizio Costantino is decent, but their efforts to walk between traditional metal and more extreme flavors aren’t always successful. The real broken cog here is the writing, which at times simply isn’t good and sometimes is quite awful. Rebellion made a name for themselves delivering energetic, catchy traditional metal, and there isn’t enough of that here. Choruses frequently don’t land or sound awkward and songs run on to the point of sadism. Basically the album is a mess with a few redeeming moments that only serve to make the mess more frustrating.

I’ve enjoyed every Rebellion album to a greater or lesser extent, but We Are the People is their first release I actively dislike. I won’t even be poaching the top songs for various playlists. I’m just throwing up my hands, walking away, and hoping the band bounces back in the future. Might I suggest Henry IV-V for a comeback vehicle? Falstaff is always ready to party.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Massacre
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: July 23rd, 2021

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