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All-Encompassing - 95%

hailmarduk666, April 2nd, 2013

This album has it all. There are countless infleuces here, from Humppa (Ahnenland), to folk (any of the Bardensang- tracks), pagan metal and a combination of folk and pagan elements all in one. There are driving double bass beats, various vocal styles, synthesizer-induced atmosphere, and excellent guitar work. The guitars are especially important, as the other instruments lay the foundation with which the guitars build upon, and the other elements are assisted by the guitars to build the songs up to a powerful climax.

The first track is short, but sets the stage for the entire album. On "Sudwarts", we are introduced to the importance of the guitars throughout the album. This method where the rhythm section is skirted by the lead guitars is utilized constantly. The listener will find a typical song to include a folk influenced intro, and a gradual incorporation of the other entities of the band. Everything is built up, and all elements introduced in the opening stanzas will come back to play a larger role as the song moves forward. A great example of this is the track "Thing". There is a folky flute/acoustic guitar melody and vocals, which builds into a powerful dueling guitar riff derived from the initial melody and atmospheric synth is engaged. At this point all instruments are moving full force, and a powerful pagan anthem is born. The climax of each track is reached near the end of each song, which allows a reset of sorts, where the folk influences are again allowed to take center stage, and the process is repeated.

Each instrument is important on this album. The drums do a great job of maintaining the frantic pace of the guitars, and the synthesizer lends to the overall power and atmosphere (similar to that of Moonsorrow). The vocals styles range from clean, raspy higher pitched growls, and deep throaty snarls or a combination of the three. This leads to a very full and almost operatic vocal arrangement when attaining the pinnacle point of each track. The guitars, however, are the most versitile and range from acoustic, distorted, and a combination of the two. The dueling guitar style is found on every track, even the fully acoustic ones like "Bardensang- Eschenhain", where each guitar is moving on seperate octaves and gives an incredibly full sound.

The flow of the album is fantastic, and every track leads into the next, sometimes borrowing from the previous one to expound on a melody that is varied slightly. Even though there are three short tracks that are fully acoustic, they fit well because of the fact that all the songs start relatively minimally and build as the song goes on. Every track has a memorable riff, and I find myself headbanging, and double bass air drumming uncontrollably. This is a great album if you like folk metal bands like Moonsorrow, Finntroll, or Månegarm. There is a little bit of everything, and kept me entertained throughout the entire length.

Standout tracks: Louvia - die ewigen Wälder, Runibergun, Ahnenland and Skithingi.

Solid Thuringian Metal - 90%

Basilisk, July 25th, 2008

Here stands another quality pagan metal act from Thuringia. If you enjoy pagan folk metal, then you will enjoy this album. They combine their use of harsh vocals with epic clean vocals that go well with the pagan black metal which encompasses occasional acoustic elements.

This album follows in the wake of two excellent releases, a 2005 EP, and a 2003 album, and picks up where they left off but with more force and a little less melody. Each song on Skithingi is distinct, my favorite being Runibergun, but there are likenesses among some of the songs. Songs like Runibergun are crafted with matchless melodies which render them exceptional, but there are a few songs whose melodies are comparable. Not necessarily a bad thing, considering there are 14 tracks on the album it sort of works to form a concept. That being said, this is nevertheless a wonderful pagan metal album with some beautiful melodies and forceful power.

The music well-executed and the lyrics are sung entirely in German. It is a common and admirable thing for a band (especially folk metal) to perform their songs in their native tongue. Only have I ever heard Americans complain of something not being sung in English. Fuckin Americans. Anyways, Dark Centuries’ vocals are excellent and the instruments are good as well. The guitars produce some great riffs, the keyboards are not overused, and there is nothing wrong with the drums.

Overall this is a pretty damn good album, recommended if you like pagan folk metal. If you don’t appreciate this genre, then leave the critiquing to those who do.

XIV Tracks Too Many - 45%

Vega360, August 30th, 2007

I have had this CD for a while and have been meaning to review it for a long time however I always had other things to listen to and just shelved this for awhile. I recently got it back out again and sadly I remember why I shelved it.

Several times and in several reviews I have stated how the term “pagan metal” is the single most useless sub-genre ever invented and I still stand by that point. XIV Dark Centuries play a kind of melodic pagan metal with folk influences, sadly there in lies the first problem. This album has 14 tracks and goes about 45 minutes, which is strange for something under this genre, and is the second problem. This whole album is a giant messed up jumble of riffs, folk instruments, vocals and lyrics which (like the booklet) are entirely in German. I have seen a chemical model of glucose made from tinker toys that makes more sense than this mess.

Lyrically I couldn’t tell you a damn thing that’s going on and the musical aspects of this are just as confusing. The entire album is set up around one melodic guitar riff, just one. I swear I herd the same melodic solo recycled throughout the first eight tracks, then it is played lower for the remainder of the album. There is no change; there is no comprehensible bass guitar sound (it is buried among the production and only almost audible on eight track), just one melody.

The drumming isn’t memorable in the slightest. There line up says they have a drummer, but he sounds as robotic as a machine. The drums aren’t blasting (thankfully), the majority of the time they sound deep, like battle drums, while that may sound cool at first, after fourteen tracks this gets old.

Never have I seen a band as in love with “acoustic parts” as this one. Almost half the songs have the same style of intro, slow acoustic chords followed by somber keyboards. Acoustic parts are great; expect when they become so common that there used just about as much as any normal instrument, then they become meaningless. The keyboards get used in a similar fashion, almost to death but not as bad as some of the bands I have purchased stuff for.

Vocals jump between clean chants and harsh vocals. The chanting is alright but the band also places the chants in during the melodic parts, so it loses some meaning. The harsh vocals are one of the few things about this disc that fit in with the atmosphere XIV Dark Centuries is attempting to create.

To contrast with the melody parts there is some cleaner folk song parts (the entire eleventh track is like this). The majority of these are acoustic & keyboard based with clean chanting and some background folk percussion however some have some flute parts present. Almost all of these sound exactly the same, but the flute adds some much needed diversity at the beginning of the CD but after a while it just isn’t used.

This album is alright, I can see myself listening to it once in a great while. All of the songs sound like they were just made from one basic song and tweaked a little bit so they sound somewhat different. Fourteen tracks are just way too much for an album of this genre all the songs sound incomplete and unfinished. If you are at a distro that sells this, chances are they have other equally underground things there which are probably worth the purchase, buy this with caution, it’s only for folk metal diehards.