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So many so-called Viking Metal bands such as the old legends of Bathory, the very popular Amon Amarth or rather recent bands like Tyr have all sung about the history of the Vikings, some of them have done very innovating and progressive jobs as others have created silly clichés and failed heir approaches. But the ultimate album about Vikings is this one by the rather unknown German power metal band Rebellion. This first part of the trilogy has got everything I would expect from such an album.
First of all, the lyrics are authentic and there is a very good research behind it as some of the band members are history teachers and know what they are talking about. Instead of dealing with clichés and creating epic fantasy stories, the lyrics and personalities shown and presented throughout the songs are authentic and seem to become real. Although there is this very intellectual approach, the album is pure heavy metal and deals with the typical trademarks.
Second, the band doesn't need folk instruments or epic choirs to underline their epic conceptual album as they simply decided to write some straight and yet very diversified songs that fit to the portraits of the different stories. They don't need to write songs with a length of ten minutes or above, they simply develop an amazing and intense atmosphere in only four or five minutes with only two songs with a length above six minutes. I have rarely seen or heard such a consistent, diversified and entertaining album. This album is grounded and easy to approach but you still discover well hidden details after several tries in some of the more complex songs.
The third point is that this album has a truly majestic atmosphere and is epic in every sense of the word. It's a milestone of a conceptual album.
Now, let's talk about some of the best songs in here to show the diversity, talent, passion, professionalism and intelligence of this band. After a short and sweet instrumental introduction comes the first heathen hammer of the north. "Ynglinga saga" is the longest track on this output. It has atmospheric parts with some acoustic guitars, a very heroic anthem as a chorus, and some amazing solos without any lengths and has not a single second of useless boredom. The vocals are great, diversified, powerful, epic and heavy. I know that the categorization of "power metal" may frighten some people but this band has nothing to do with other European kitsch bands and sounds rather like a heavy Teutonic metal brigade that reunites the trademarks of the traditional metal with the intellectual approach and courage of the modern times to write and sing about a historic topic. It’s probably my favourite track on this brilliant album. This first full length song takes no prisoners and should already convince any critical voices.
If this is not the case yet, the next song called "The sons of the dragon slayer (blood eagle)" will do the rest. This song goes straight in the face and has a wild, pitiless and Barbarian touch with some sharp riffs, a very powerful voice and an amazing solo. Heaviness, melody and originality are mixed together in this masterpiece for the ages.
The other songs aren't weaker and one highlight is followed by the next. From the heroic anthem "Eric the red" and the quite original half ballad "Treason" to the silent, melodic and haunting experiment "Canute the great (the king of Danish pride)", this album delivers a potpourri of great entertainment by mixing interesting topic, sharp riffs, powerful choruses and emotional solos to an atmospheric killer album without any filler.
Forget about Amon Amarth, Tyr, Turisas and so on. Head for this album if you want to discover the ultimate masterpiece of the true Viking Metal.
Sagas Of Iceland... I admit, not nearly as groundbreaking as their next release, Miklagard, but it's getting there. I feel that it is necessary to admit that Miklagard is one of my favorite albums of all time, and Sagas Of Iceland, the first part of the Viking Trilogy, does a good job as Miklagard's predecessor.
I am still surprised none of Rebellion's albums have more than one review so far on this site. They are an amazing band, and I have to strongly recommend any one of their releases. However, let me go on with my review.
Firstly, I need to commend Michael Seifert's vocals. I really don't think he gets the credit he deserves as a vocalist. He has a large range, a perfect singing voice to create that "Viking" atmosphere, and most importantly... he seems to be able to really draw in his listener and keep their attention. His voice never gets boring, and is always almost... commanding. Personally, I think he fits the band perfectly, and does a better job than I could ever see anyone else do.
Guitarwork? Nothing to complain about, and definitely a lot to praise. The riffage is extremely well done, catchy and heavy at the same time. I've heard some complaints about the songs having similar riffs? Nah, I disagree. Perhaps a bit of a similarity can be heard, but each song is definitely fresh and original. Solos, although less of them than on other Rebellion albums, they're still flawless like always. I never would've expected differently.
Drums seem to keep an even pounding rhythm throughout all songs, and it may seem a bit repetitive at times, but I'm not complaining. It works well, and in fact, I'd go as far as to say I'm quite fond of the steady percussion.
Production is clearer than on previous Rebellion releases, and doesn't seem to have that "rawness" that other albums always seemed to have. Again, it's a little different, but not necessarily bad. That nice crunchy effect is still there, but the whole albums seems to be done a bit heavier. I like the change.
Very well done, nice catchy choruses, amazing songwriting... and I'm glad to finally see another power metal band with that "power" again. Thrashy, catchy, powerful, and epic, this album has it all. Let's just hope that Rebellion's third installment in the trilogy will be as impressive as the first two.
So, here’s the first part of three in Rebellion’s Viking-concept, cool if you ask me and I was hoping that the music on the album was as good as the concept. And Rebellion has become better on some parts. First, the vocalist (Michael Seifert) sings a lot better on this album than on the first two, he doesn’t sing that false high-falsetto vocals so much here. He does sing easy and calm here, and it doesn’t sound like that before I tell you. The other thing is the production, it’s heavy and crunchy, especially the bass drums & snare drums has got a lift up. The production isn’t as raw as on the first two, but heaviness is an important part and they got it much better now. Just listen to “Sons of the Dragon Slayer”, what a groove there is in that song.
The album kicks off with the easy acoustic intro, “In Memorandum Lindisfarnae”. It’s not too necessary in my opinion. Then it really starts with the moderately slow, “Ynglinga Saga” which is a really good track (even if nothing special). Nice and cool verses & bridges with a decent chorus. And hell, listen to Seifert’s scream at 5:43, it is totally groundbreaking. In overall he’s a pretty bad vocalist but on that scream he shows off really good. Next up is “The sons of the Dragon Slayer” as I said before a real heavy and groovy song with a real killer riff. My favourite song of the album. 4th up is “Ragnhild’s Dream” which has it’s real strength in the verses, they do really kill. Heavy mid-paced stuff, but the bridge and chorus is pretty boring. After that is “Harald Harfager” which starts with a awful ballad-ish intro but then breaks into one of the fastest on the album. Nice verses & bridge, but a lame chorus. 6th song is the galooping “Eric The Red”, a middletrack. Not too good but not bad either. Verses, bridge & chorus are all OK. Next is “Freedom” which starts like a Rammstein song mixtured with acoustic part. It has awfully bad verses but the bridge is cool with a manly choir singing “Ho-ho Gang Hrolf”, decent chorus. 8th is the very lame ballad “Treason” a song that really hasn’t got into my mind, a boring one. Next is the moderately slow “Sword In The Storm” which has hear-the-bass-well verses, and then the guitar come in to and it gets a nice groove.
The bridge destroys the song a bit though. 10th song of the album is “Blood Rains” which is fast with nice verses and a decent bridge but has a bad & poppy chorus. After that is “Ruling The Waves”. A nice stomping song, but it seems like it doesn’t have a structure. I can’t really tell what’s bridge or chorus and so on. But it’s not the weakest track on the album, that’s for sure. 12th up is “Canute The Great” which is in my opinion a pretty poppy song, no groove at all. -“Where’s the bass” I’m always thinking. The bridge/chorus is awful. And the albums last song is a real heavy one called “Harald Hadrade”. I really like this song’s ending. Starting at 3:47, the riffs there are cool.
What I miss on this album is those awesome Uwe Lulis guitar solos you could get easily on any Grave Digger album he played on. It seems like the ideas for great solos is running out from his mind. But he has some nice soloing on “Ynglinga Saga” so at least 1 song has it. I also miss some more groovy songs like “S.O.T.D.S” & “Harald Hadrade”, and some killer choruses would be fine. There isn’t many songs on this album that has good chorus. Often it’s just too simple or a bit too catchy. (Like “Blood Rains”, “Harald Harfager”, “Canute The Great”. But overall I like this album. I can’t really tell which Rebellion album that is best ‘cause their all fairly even. But this has for sure the best concept of them, a big plus to Tomi Göttlich for taking time and doing these things.
If you’re looking for some heavy/power metal and sometimes a bit epic then I recommend you to buy this album. But this isn’t as good as Tomi’s & Uwe’s time in Grave Digger, but maybe they are there with the volume 2 in this concept. Who knows, but until that one is out I think you should try this album out.