Servants to the Tide – Servants to the Tide Review

As a trve, epic sort of gentleman, I feel there’s a  disturbing lack of quality epic doom in today’s metal scene. Atlantean Kodex can’t release a monstrous magnum opus every year, and with While Heaven Wept out of action, the scene is screaming in the night for wengeance and a love bite that almost never arrives. Attempting to fill this epic gap comes Germanic tribe, Servants to the Tide with their self-titled debut platter. Proudly name dropping both the aforementioned acts as major inspirations, the band dives into the deep end of the trve pool, also borrowing from Candlemass and Sorcerer as they labor to spin grand tales of great deeds. And you know, they aren’t half bad at it either, sounding like Atlantean Kodex Lite more often than not. This is a good thing. But is it a great thing?

After a short, somewhat folksy intro piece, things get super-sized on “A Wayward Son’s Return.” Here be the Candlemassive doom riffs and weighty worldbuilding you need in your weak, pedestrian lives. The mood is appropriate and the epic sound is there. Stephan Wehrbein has noble clean vocals with which to steer the ship, and all looks to be in good working order. It’s an easy enough song to enjoy with nearly all the genre’s essential oils accounted for, but by the end I’m left wishing it was a bit grander and more awe-inspiring. The 8 minutes of “North Sea” kick things up a few crucial notches for a bigger sound with grandeur imprinted in its DNA. Here the Atlantean Kodex influence is readily apparent and the central riff sounds like it was ripped from The White Goddess album. This stuff is succor for my warrior soul, immersing me in old timey pageantry and ancient majesty. Plug an endless stream of this into my medieval brainstem and you have one happy, broadswordy Steel.

“On Marsh and Bones (the Face of Black Palmyra)” carries subtle hints of To the Nameless Dead era Primordial and packs a righteous chorus, and “Your Sun Will Never Shine for Me” is a respectable little piece of epic doom with another solid chorus. They save the best for last though, as the nearly 9 minute closer “A Servant to the Tide” shows the band in the best possible light. This is big, epic stuff with an unexpected dose of doom death shoehorned in for extra killing power. The way the song ebbs and flows is slick and the chorus is simple but captivating. This is where the band shows what it can do when things come together and it’s quite impressive indeed. I especially love the trilling guitar harmonies at 5:45. At a scant 34 minutes, there’s not a lot of meat to the platter, and it feels like a glorified EP rather a fully fleshed out album. While none of the songs are bad, “A Wayward Son’s Return” feels a bit too safe and stuck in mid-epic, never fully ascending to that lofty mountaintop where Wotan presents tankards overflowing with Orange Julius to the brave and valiant. There are some other rough moments that crop as well, like sudden, awkward transitions and occasional DIY issues with the production.

Stephan Wehrbein has a decent voice, but he sounds better suited to folk singing than epic metal environs. He lacks range and fails to elevate his delivery for that extra punch at crucial moments. This gives certain songs a one-note flavor, leaving you longing for something bigger in scope, with even the best tracks crying out for a more commanding performance at times. He needs to be more bold and strident with his vocals if the band ever expects to make it to the golden halls of Valhalla. Leonid Rubinstein does a good job manning guitar, bass and keys, and some of his riffs are impressive. There’s a respectable amount of atmosphere crafted via his guitar and keyboard work and songs like “North Sea” and “A Servant to the Tide” are steeped in it with excellent results.

I wanted to love Servants to the Tide, but instead I heartily like it and love moments of it. These chaps have many of the tools necessary to create something epic enough to make Ares weep black tears of retribution, and now with some experience under their belts they’re twice as formidable. Fear the potential, respect the humble origin story.1

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: No Remorse Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: March 26th, 2021

Show 1 footnote

  1. A funny thing happened to Steel on the way to doing this review. Somehow, someway, the promo got tangled up with the one for Thunder Horse. For several strange days I listened to that biker/sludge/doom album while reading and re-reading the promo package for this one, wondering why on Earth the band thought they sounded like Atlanean Kodex in any way, shape, or form. Long story short, I spent a bunch of time unwittingly enjoying the Thunder Horse album we already reviewed while writing pages of notes praising the music and questioning the highly inaccurate, misleading promo language. Turns out I’m an idiot, and while both albums are enjoyable, Thunder Horse wins the day.
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