Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Gernotshagen: Weltenbrand (2011)


Like pagan metal, Viking metal is another subgenre I tend to neglect. I first heard of Germany's Gernotshagen when Weltenbrand appeared in the number 3 spot on a list of the top 10 metal albums of 2011. Since I consider the author my better in the field of pagan and Viking metal, I decided to try it out.

It's worth mentioning that Metal Archives lists them as a pagan metal band. However, no one plays traditional instruments (although flute does pop up in the opener and closer) and the synths of Viking metal are very prominent. Since I wholly reject any attempt to classify music based on lyrical content, and I can't understand the lyrics anyway, I'm going to call it Viking metal. Assuming arguendo that lyrical themes are a legitimate method for classifying music, there's a Mjölnir in their logo, so why is there any confusion about this?

Anyway, the record starts on an intro before seamlessly transitioning to the title track. It's an epic piece of work with emotional leads, dramatic synths, great (sometimes blasting) drums, and plenty of (sometimes tremolo-picked) memorable riffs. While they can switch moods from triumphant to morose or anything else they want, this is the band's essential formula. They round out their sound with a variety of vocal styles from rasps, to whisper-rasps, to death growls, to a magnificent clean vocal. And, oh yeah, they're in the most metal language of all: German.

Each of the seven proper songs is an excellent representative of their style, but two are of particularly high quality. "Thursenhain" has one of the most masterful blends of guitar and synth I've ever heard, with plenty of high drama and different riff formulations making it absolutely epic--moreso even than the rest of the album. Later in the record, "Schlachtenbruder" is so catchy, upbeat, and inspiring that if Rocky Balboa lived in Medieval Germany, this would have been his theme song.

The Verdict: Weltenbrand is a fantastic record, good enough to make you forget that synths usually sound cheesy. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the shout out. Glad to hear you enjoyed this record :)