|Review: Equilibrium - Sagas|
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Year released: 2008
Genre: Viking Metal
Review online: March 16, 2009
Reviewed by: PowerMetal59
Rated 4.52/5 (90.4%) (25 Votes)
Easily the most common word used to describe great metal is "epic". If I may indulge its use one more time, epic is clearly what best depicts Equilibrium's most recent opus, a work so huge and extraordinary that it is destined to attain legendary status. I have to say the last time I was this blown away by Viking Metal this stunning was the first time I heard Moonsorrow's Voimasta Ja Kunniasta. I knew I was in for something special when album opener "Prolog auf Erden" came crashing through my speakers, followed by the bombastic and explosive "Wurzelbert", and thus for the next seventy odd minutes your ears are raped and bludgeoned by the magnitude of the shear power and beauty that is crafted into each of the songs. By the 2:00 minute mark of track 3 "Blut im Auge" my jaw was scraping the ground, and keep in mind this is coming from someone who is extremely finicky when it comes to growled or shrieky vocals. But when it comes to the war screams and deep growls of Helge Stang, consider me a fan.
Despite the album containing thirteen tracks, and clocking in at a gaudy 79:14, there are no boring moments and nary a single note of filler, which allows the listener to remain fully engaged. Quite an achievement, and one that speaks volumes to the level of musicianship on display within the vast sweeping realm of highly varied orchestrations and beautifully layered melodies. At the same time the heavy and insanely catchy guitar hooks along with the smart use of pan flutes and wind instruments sweeps you into an atmosphere of blood pumping, deep forest, war battle bliss.
Yes indeed Sagas is an 80 minute epic masterpiece which blends a variation of sub-genres, ranging from Folk/Viking, to Symphonic Black Metal, all of which is supported by tastefully layered symphonic orchestrations. Razor-sharp guitar riffs, accompanied by drumming that is powerful and up-tempo the majority of the time atone for an album that is a majestic and unique listening experience. A special mention goes to the sixteen minute instrumental closer "Mana". What a gorgeous piece of music; in fact it is certainly one of the most brilliant pieces of music ever produced in the metal genre! Beginning at a slow and brooding pace, then slowly building up to the magnificent flute solo, which segues to the marvelous build up which will have you sitting at the edge of your seat in anticipation of something truly memorable, then at 5:28 there is a rapture that will have you jumping out of your seat with your fists held high. After many subsequent listens I still get goose bumps during this beautifully written passage of music. There may be those who will accuse Equilibrium of being a tad self-indulgent with this over-the-top piece, but there is no denying these Germans possess extraordinary skill as musicians.
Fans of bands such as Moonsorrow, Ensiferum or Turisas will have an orgasm over Sagas, which is definitely one of the highlights in all of metal for 2008, and an absolute no-brainer of a purchase. Recommended!
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