This review is for Oakenson, as he would have penned it in my place I'm sure, were he around to do so.
With only a small amount of listening to “Turis Fratyr” before encountering Equilibrium's latest offering, I didn't have much to go on. At the time when I first discovered Equilibrium, I was not one for harsh vocals at all, and so it didn't get much play time. Now that I've done some more listening and my ears have become attuned, I've turned back to Equilibrium. They're symphonic, epic, and a little bit over-the-top, all of which mean that they're right up my alley.
It seems to me that “Rekreatur” has been getting a bad rap now that Equilibrium have had their breakthrough and gained some popularity. It's been accused of any number of failings, from poor vocal performance and repeating their old material to being “too light-hearted”. However, this review is not an attack on anyone's poor opinions. Rather, let's start from the top.
If you're reading this, you're most likely already aware of Equilibrium's work, so you know just what to expect from them. Things haven't changed, though they are perhaps a little bit more upbeat this time. These are the same crunchy, synth-drenched battle songs that Equilibrium has been doing since their inception, and will likely continue to do. The vocals are all harsh, and perhaps not the greatest for the genre. I admit I'd probably like the music better if the vocals were clean or at least more akin to those used by bands like Ensiferum and Wintersun. The music isn't very deep either (heck, you can't even understand the lyrics if you don't speak German); it's the sort of fluffy fantasy/folk metal that you listen to when you're in the right mood and want something catchy and uplifting. I for one love it.
I am not the greatest judge of harsh vocals, and so I'm hardly in a strong position to critique Rober Dahn, nor compare him to previous vocalist Helge Stang. If nothing else, they have a heck of a backup band, and one that excels at writing fluid and catchy melodies. The greatest thing about Equilibrium in my opinion is the absolute thrill and grandeur of their keyboard-topped melodies, and these are as sweeping and majestic as ever on this album. Everyone has their own favorite picks on this album, mine include “In Heiligen Hallen”, “Der Ewige Sieg”, and “Der Wassermann”.
Aside from the keyboards, the music is solid. The guitars largely play a rhythm role, but are able to break in with a galloping lead from time to time. Because of the ridiculous style of the music, the presence of the bass is largely glossed over, which is a pity, though I'm sure it comes through better at live shows. The percussion is another impressive part of this and every Equilibrium album. Simply to keep up the blazing pace that the band sets would seem to be a significant feat. The percussion is occasionally varied as well on “Rekreatur”, expanded beyond the standard metal drum kit in some areas, though I do not know if these sounds are electronically generated or not.
Suffice it to say I can't understand nay-sayers of this album, as it's pretty consistent with what the band have been doing. Saying that songs are fluffed-up re-writes of old tunes is not true. Like most bands, Equilibrium's style is pretty unvaried, and it becomes a matter of listening intently enough to be able to distinguish one song and one album from the other. Just because it's all keyboard-driven epic melodic death metal doesn't mean it all sounds the same. Now, based exclusively on the style of music that the band plays, this album is going to turn a number of people away because of its sound. For those that don't mind or enjoy the style, “Rekreatur” is certain to satisfy. Both authors of Black Wind heartily endorse Equilibrium's latest effort, and hope for an equally strong outing their next time around!
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The Protagonist's Rating: 8.75 out of 10