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Siegfried (Die Sage vom Helden) is the fourth official demo release from Germany's Moonblood, coming just seven months after The Winter Falls Over the Land, in October 1995. The word "official" is in there, simply for the fact that countless rehearsal tapes are floating around, though it has been said that these were never meant for public consumption. This demo shows even more development, as the band had taken the influences from the likes of Bathory and Darkthrone and created their own brand of raw and hateful Black Metal.
The songwriting is still rather primitive, with somewhat simplistic structures, yet the melodies are powerful and very epic, at times. Within the minimalist bounds that they were well known for, Occulta Mors and Gaamalzagoth crafted songs that have still not been matched, in many respects, as the material is far stronger than one might initially suspect. The music covers a wide range, including thrash and epic Bathory-inspired riffs as well as the standard playing style that largely defined the Second Wave Black Metal sound. Even better, there are some old school galloping riffs that show how far back the roots of this band go.
The production quality is below that of The Winter Falls Over the Land, which is a little surprising. One just does not expect a band to regress in such a way, but it is still coherent enough for the musical ideas to be appreciated. It shares much more in common with the Blut und Krieg L.P. rather than the demo that preceded it. However, it is still much clearer than any of the other demos or rehearsals. There is an added sense of wickedness to the vocals, since all of the lyrics are in German and this just, naturally, sounds more harsh. No one element really seems to dominate the sound, which can be good and bad. Good in the sense that there is no way for the wrong thing to be excessively high in the mix, yet also bad in that the guitars blend into the rest, to an extent.
Another thing worth noting is the length. Moonblood was notorious for creating lengthy songs (and a lot of them), that largely went unheard. Siegfried contains enough material for a full record, clocking in at just under 40 minutes. Many of the rehearsals were even twice as long, which makes one wonder why the band never attempted to properly record the bulk of this music and make proper albums out of them.
Siegfried is a solid release for any Moonblood fan, though not particularly essential when compared to some of their other works. It is definitely worth a listen and, once your ears are trained to comprehend the raw sound, you will find many surprises that are well worth your time. This demo is but another reason to explain why this band has been so highly revered in the underground.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com