without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
If Rebellion's predominant abstraction revolving around historical fare is true to the conceptual path Uwe Lulis planned to take Grave Digger immediately after Excalibur, it is safe to say that we missed out on something spectacular. Even more difficult to argue is the fact that Lulis' wrought-iron appeal on the six-strings is at its landscape-razing deadliest when channeled through a more militaristic, mid-paced template like the one featured extensively here on Miklagard. It took the band three tries post-inception, but on 2005's Sagas of Iceland a harmonious balance was finally achieved, treading on a stylistic tightrope that had previously failed the band on earlier efforts. Born a Rebel is a potent example of the band's no-frills temperament failing them, featuring weak songwriting and an overall dearth of cohesive ethos.
Miklagard, the second entry in The History of the Vikings trilogy, is a step ahead in nearly every conceivable facet. Even when judged against the shocking return to form that is Sagas of Iceland, a visible influx of energy and zest is clearly discernible. Be it the imperial, militant drive of "Free" and "Kiew," or the skull-crunching open notes held out over hails of double-bass like on "Taste of Steel," the body count remains quite high no matter what the approach. As per Lulis' throwback influences, there are a number of speed metal intervals as well, which are universally hot and piping, sharpening a new blade when the former begins to dull from bloodshed. Many of the riffs slide up and down the fretboard, relying on crushing chord progressions as opposed to the more typical melodic licks associated with the genre. Lulis' tone is rich and classic sounding, yet feels smooth and polished in an (appealingly) modern way.
Göttlich and Wenzel coexist in potent lock-step with each other, actually partitioning a large swath of the scope of the sound for themselves. Göttlich enjoys what is perhaps his most sizable chunk of the spotlight ever, his clanging, tempered frequencies dialed-in right under the dominance of the vocals and guitars. Journeyman drummer Gerd Lücking rounds out this battle-worn rhythm section, his tom-heavy delivery adding a war hymn-esque percussive subtext to the entire sound, slamming like a dozen oars hitting the water all at once.
An enviable contingent to be sure, and while I have lauded Rebellion in the past for their ability to craft a foundation as rigid as tempered steel, they oftentimes failed to replicate such visceral attributes vocally. While Seifert still seems to sing well outside of his comfort zone at times, he totally redeems the lame performance on Born a Rebel. His vocals lack a distinctive level of melodic appeal, but convince thoroughly on attitude alone. Dude has some of the most gravel-born, venom-radiating chops in the genre, embodying something close to a less-exaggerated Chris Boltendahl with perhaps even more vitriolic grit at his core.
Miklagard, like most Rebellion records, eventually lives or dies by the songwriting alone. The band still fails to inspire for the full duration, but I can find a reason to dig the shit out of nearly all of these numbers. Okay, "Ulfberth" has an incredibly irritating chorus (which sadly nukes an otherwise rancorous set of riffs) but everything else is solid, if unspectacular at times, heavy/power metal at its most conceptually simple and likable. If you need catchier choruses, try out Iron Savior or Paragon, as Rebellion is struck from a decidedly less melodically-inveigling mold. They are a band that checks all of the necessary genre hallmarks on their way down, but through this adherence to the less exultant, will always find themselves fighting against the current - for better or for worse.
Two years after the brilliant first part of the trilogy, I was really looking forward and expecting very much from this second part. My question was if the band would be able to keep up the high level and create the epic atmosphere of their last opus magnum.
Finally, this album wasn't able to keep up with the previous one and I have been quite disappointed at the time it came out. But it isn't a bad album after all and has some killer tracks on it like the atmospheric and surprising opener "Vi seglar mot Miklagard", the very slow and melodic title track "Miklagard" which has become my favourite song on the record or the closing epic "The uprising" that grows more and more every time I listen to it.
The main problem of the album is that most of the songs sound quite alike. A short introduction, a few fast riffs, a powerful chorus and a couple of solos during the bridge and once again a powerful chorus in the end are the base of most of the songs. While many songs are fast, heavy and straight in your face, the epic factor and the diversity of the last album has gone away and there are some fillers on the record. Some better examples of this kind of approach are the fast Viking hymn "Ulfberth" or the rather epic "Kiew" but songs like the opener "Sweden" or the stereotypical failure "Taste of steel" are rather boring. The album has not the intellectual approach I was expecting, the intense atmosphere I was longing for and the diversity I have admired on the last album. The album is mostly fast and rhythm orientated and sounds like typical Teutonic metal in the key of Grave Digger so that I must attest a surprising lack of identity for this record.
This album is a very solid one but far away from the excellence of the first part of trilogy and also of the diversity of the strong last part. The traditional metal fans will surely like it for its straightness but I was expecting more.
Let me say straight out that earning a perfect score of a 100% is very tough to do in my book. Yet, I don't see how I could possibly vote otherwise. This album has blasted its way out of my speakers for countless hours, from beginning to end... yet I do not see myself getting bored of it anytime soon.
The genre is the first thing to mention. Rebellion are often labeled as "power metal." Yet... I think "speed metal" would be a better label if one was required - maybe a mix of power and thrash. Why? Well, Rebellion definitely sound a lot more raw and thrashier than power metal, especially with the powerful vocals of Michael Seifert. They actually remind me a lot of the vocals from Grave Digger - yet undoubtedly better.
I actually discovered this band thanks to Grave Digger, seeing as Rebellion was founded by two ex-members, most notably Uwe Lulis, the guitarist. While the two bands do share some similarities, Rebellion is the clear winner, as established through not only this release, but also their highly-recommended Part 1 to the viking saga.
But alas, on to the music! Rebellion's Miklagard is in fact the second part to a not-yet-finished trilogy about the history of vikings. Perhaps an exhausted topic, yes, but Rebellion tackle this subject in a brand new, refreshing light that should make even Amon Amarth green with envy.
The album opens up with a mellow instrumental intro track that sets the atmosphere and lets us know, something fucking incredible is about to start... and it does!
The guitar riffs and the backing pounding of the drums crush mercilessly and never let up. The vocals join in to create a killer combination. While Seifert's voice is harsh and low, he has enough of a range and melody to form the catchiest of choruses found anywhere. One listen through the album and you will undoubtedly be screaming along, "Sweden, oh Sweden! My fatherland, my HOME!" or "Whistling death as I swing thee FASTER!"
Guitar playing is spot-on. Every track has a great solo, yet it is not so filled with technicality as many power metal releases. In fact, I found the solos to be very reminiscent of Iron Maiden... maybe not demonstrating a huge amount of skill, but they work great to set the mood and intensity the journey. When Miklagard is blasting through your speakers, you ARE racing towards the field of battle, sword and axe in hand, ready to slaughter your enemy, or die a glorious death while trying.
This release has it all - brutal guitars, amazing drumming, incredible guitar solos, and tremendous replay ability. Every track is memorable, every song is catchy, and hell.... the whole album is just plain old fun. One can only hope that the third and final part of the trilogy will be just as good!
Recommended for vikings and ANY heavy metal fans, be it thrash, power, death, or doom... Rebellion will not let you down.
-Marcin W. Cencek
On this chilly November afternoon, I sit with a great deal of resentment towards the year 2007. I thought for sure there would be a great deal of power metal releases but alas I was disappointed. When Iced Earth, Kamelot, Manticora, Sonata Arctica etc. all promise to release new albums in this year one can’t help but get excited. I look back and wonder how big of a fool I was. None of the aforementioned bands have released anything worthy of their name this year. Ever since Grave Digger put out their cursed Liberty or Death and set the standards for power metal albums to suck for 2007 only a few bands have been immune to its malevolent wave. Surprisingly, Rebellion lives up to their name and have resisted such a fate.
To start off lets just look at this band. Formed by two ex-members of Grave Digger I wonder why it took me so long to discover them. It becomes apparent that they split paths with Grave Digger to avoid the trail of suck Grave Digger was destined to walk this year. Coming from two ex-Grave Digger members it’s not surprising they sound similar. However, where Grave Digger seems to lack Rebellion excels. Rebellion’s style of play is faster and more aggressive. It remains just as melodic and catchy, though. The similarities where they struck me most are the vocals. Both have a semi-harsh almost thrash like sounding singer in a power metal band and it works astonishingly well. There are even moments where I would prefer Rebellion’s own Michael Seifert to Chris of Grave Digger.
The music itself is exactly what you’d hope it to be. Monster riffs and powerful drums pave a path of nonstop heavy fucking metal. Headbanging to this album isn’t an option. You simply must do it. It’s consistent from start to finish, as there isn’t a single weak track on this album, barring maybe the intro, which you can skip without missing a thing. It’s amazing that you just cannot stop enjoying the tracks as they come and go one by one. You’ll soon recognize every song and as it comes on you’ll prepare for the onslaught of heavy fucking metal personified you’re about to experience.
Don’t expect to forget about the songs anytime soon as they’re catchy as hell. Amidst the wave of metal you’ll find yourself singing along like “Sweden, oh Sweden!” Christ there’s a catchy as shit song about Sweden from a German band! Ulfberth. Did you pronounce that right? Rebellion is the only band out there that can take a word like “Ulfberth” and fit it into a catchy chorus. It’s precisely moments like that I would rather have Michael sing this over Chris. Michael sounds a lot like a Viking so it sounds perfect. Which reminds me, the Viking theme of this album is quite a breath of fresh air for power metal, which has gone stale from the usual knights and dragons theme going around.
So all in all here’s the thing: it’s an awesome album. I can’t think of many things wrong with it. I guess the production could have been better but everything sounds great anyway. Whatever, get this album right now. This slays every recent power metal release and hell, slays most metal in general.
Rebellion is a 5-piece power metal outfit created by two ex-Grave Digger members and it’s not incorrect to say that Rebellion plays a very similar sound to Grave Digger but with a Viking touch. The galloping riffs, the pummeling double bass, the gruff but excellent vocals are all here but what makes Rebellion so different than Grave Digger? Obviously Rebellion plays a similar sound, and a German band as well but the Viking lyrical content, and overall feel makes you think you’re on a Viking longboat or in a medieval village with a broadsword in your hand. The crew has taken a Grave Digger appeal and taken it to a new level where a Viking feel dominates and allows the listener to strip away the comparisons and give Rebellion it’s own credit.
On to the album, Miklagard – The History of the Vikings Part II is a solid album, and while I do not know what ‘Miklagard’ is, this album does nothing but widen my interest in the Viking history and lifestyle. There are no ballads in this album; it is full of mid-tempo songs and blistering fast and aggressive headbangers that leave you wanting more!
Seriously, there should be a warning label; this album is a sure headbanger that despite the ferocious onslaught of double bass laden drums and riffs that make Jon Schaffer proud, is doesn’t lose the epic appeal. Songs like God of Thunder and the title track are surely epic, but really aren’t as good as the upbeat faster songs. The vocals sound like a slightly less gruff version of Chris Boltendahl of Grave Digger with more range and just as much conviction. Michael Seifert is a talented vocalist and could possibly even sound classically trained to a certain degree; either way he adds a great deal to the Viking experience. The drumming is a constant double bass on most songs, but there is variety in its tone and shifts around – nothing out of the ordinary here. This is also a riff-tastic album for those who enjoy heavier power metal like Sabaton, Primal Fear, and Jag Panzer this will add to the freshness. Not every song has a solo but a majority contains a short but killer solo that shows the talent of the guitarists. The production is also crisp clean and done perfectly for the feel, but certainly not overdone.
This album might seem a little long regarding 13 tracks, and some of the mid-tempo ones can often run along the same lines but if it weren’t for the heavier tracks such as Taste of Steel, Aifur, and Ulfberth this album might lose it’s appeal some. The highlight of the album is probably the first song, past the obligatory ‘epic’ intro; Sweden. Sweden has a catchy-as-hell chorus and awesome opening riff.
Miklagard – The History of the Vikings Part II is the second chapter in a Viking story trilogy and I surely think this is Rebellion’s best offering so far chock full of awesome songs with only a couple downers but the overall feel of the lesser songs can’t drag down the album because the you’ll want to listen to the good songs over and over. So while this might be hit and miss for some, it surely deserves a listen by any fan of power metal and Viking metal.