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This conceptual album about Shakespeare's Macbeth is an output that asks you to activate not only your ears, but also your mind and fantasy. This is a true metal opera without annoying guest singers and orchestras. The extremely diversified voice of Michael Seifert who is able to sing the lowest as well as the highest note with his emotional and rough voice, a few narration parts with small sound effects and the traditional melodic guitars, pumping basses and tight drums are enough to carry this album that focusses on the essential and is an interesting alternative to somewhat overloaded conceptual albums from Avantasia or Ayreon. Rebellion play traditional and heavy power metal with guts and don't try to impress with high speed or exotic instruments like Blind Guardian. I really think that this album is underrated and should be more popular as it could please to the people that are looking for a straight but somewhat interesting and not stereotypical power metal output.
While the band delivers some really epic and elaborated but still straight and heavy songs with narrational bridges and atmospheric intros or outros like on the outstanding "Husbandry in heaven", the band doesn't forget to play some shorter rockers like the well sought opener "Disdaining fortune" or the somewhat catchy "Evil speaks". The memorable "The dead arise" unites the epicness and catchiness of the mentioned songs and is probably amongst the best songs on this record.
The only negative point is that it is impossible to listen to a song as a song because the narration parts and epic structures include every single song in the whole conceptual context. There is nothing like a possible single or little break and it is very difficult to pick out single tracks. This album works as a whole in its concept and one should listen to it from the beginning to the end as it is somewhat a theatre play for your ears and you can't just go to the theatre and watch the third act and ignore the first and last two ones. Imagine it like a movie with a length about almost eighty minutes where you get into the cinema to watch the part from the fiftieth to the sixtieth minute without without having a look at the rest. You may be able to say that the single part seems to be interesting and entertaining but you can't truly appreciate it without its context. This album demands multiple listenings and a lot of time and that can be frustrating and long sometimes. In a perfect conceptual album like maybe Queensryche's Operation:Mindcrime (or also on the loosely bound Rebellion trilogy about the history of the Vikings) the songs also work on their own and not only as a whole structure. That is the only lack of this stunning album and a reason why I rather rarely listen to it. Even if you dislike the album because of its long parts, you simply can't deny that the musicians put a lot of time, talent and passion into this output and you can feel this all the time.
When I listen to the album, I take my time to explore and appreciate it in its full range and I would suggest anyone to do so as this output is nothing for the fast food metal heads.
Rebellion's debut album is nowhere near the greatness of the follow-up Born A Rebel. They're both pretty similar in style, but the songwriting on this one is not nearly as developed, varied and memorable as it would get just one year later.
Rebellion, formed by former Grave Digger members Uwe Lulis (guitars) and Tomi Göttlich (bass) also feature the gruff but quite melodic vocals of Michael Seifert, the solid pounding drumming of Randy Black (formerly from Annihilator and now in Primal Fear also) and Björn Eilen on the additional guitars. The music is pretty heavy riff-based classic metal with obvious influences from speed and power metal. Not surprisingly pretty similar to Grave Digger, both in songwriting and guitar tone and production. And Grave Digger rule, don't they?
This isn't the most original band, so if that's a problem to you, stay away from this release. However, if you enjoy great but somewhat formulaic metal, then this should be right up your alley.
Now, why is this so much weaker than Born A Rebel? Well, like I said we have the songwriting. Many of the songs on here range from average to boring, and basically the second half of the album is pretty damn forgettable. Everything from Evil Speaks and forward is more or less filler. They're not bad songs, but don't do much at all, despite a few pretty fucking big and powerful choruses (Revenge, most notably).
And the album has yet another really, really big weakness: The narration. It is based on Shakespeare's Macbeth, and thus features tons of random narrated parts, that just completely mess up the flow of the album most of the times instead of tie it together like they're probably supposed to. Also all the actors (most notably the vocalist, Michael Seifert, who obviously play the role of Macbeth) completely overdoes everything, and constantly talks in a ridiculous and supposedly Scottish accent. That gets really annoying, take my word for it. And half the time, Seifert sounds like he has no idea what the hell he's talking about.
So, looking at these weak points, it's hard to give the album much credit. But the first couple of songs here are completely mindblowing, in fact.
After the unnecessary intro, we are delivered Disdaining Fortune, a pounding tune with heavy riffs, powerful vocals and a mighty anthemic chorus. This is what we'd get more of in Born A Rebel.
Then we have The Prophecy following it, which is the album's ultimate highlight. An atmospheric, acoustic intro turns into kickass mode during the verses, featuring a completely insane vocal performance.
But what makes the song is really how the vocally layered pre-chorus section builds it's way up into the explosive chorus, which is goddamn epic and plain mindblowing like you wouldn't believe.
Husbandry In Heaven follows. It reaches over 10 minutes, but about 1/3 of it is narrated, or consists of random slow and moody sections building up the atmosphere for the narration. But somehow, they even make the spoken parts work on this certain song. Especially the first one, excellently done by "Lady Macbeth", who also does some awesome dueling lead vocals with Michael Seifert. Musically as well, this song just owns, and is definitely another highlight.
The Dead Arise is where things start going wrong. It has a very powerful chorus and vocal performance and some nice solid riffs, but the melodic instrumental section is somewhat overlong, and the song itself just doesn't have enough ideas for being over 7 minutes. Still, it's definitely not a bad song.
But when all is said and done, more than half of this album consists of songs that are average at best, and what's already there gets pretty much ruined by pathetic and mindless narrated parts. Also, the riffwork on here is solid but not varied enough, and they aren't very distinct. There's a definite "haven't I heard this before?"-vibe during the major part of the albums second half.
So with these many weaknesses, the album is pretty weak, despite a few awesome songs that are to be found. If you like Born A Rebel you should probably get this too, but be warned: They're very similar in style, but not even in the same league quality-wise.