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A mark in folk metal history - 100%

SlashORC, April 4th, 2021

There are no words to describe just how incredible this album is, from the first few seconds of the first song Prolog Auf Erden you just know you're about to listen to something epic. This album is the definition of epic in every way imaginable; songs have an incredible atmosphere with great use of symphonies accompanied by some fantastic folk lead elements such as flutes, accordions and many more instruments.

The metal aspect is not ignored as the rhythm guitars and bass carry a lot of punch and they, along with the occasionally mesmerizing guitar melodies and fast drums provide for a very catchy and memorable metal foundation. Even if you strip the the keyboards off the album which contribute immensely to the overall great sound, you're still left with a strong metal album with great riffs and melodies. The vocals are high pitched shrieks which add a bit of a black metal layer to the overall sound.

The music is mostly of uplifting and triumphant nature that really gets your heart pumping with fast tempo songs such as Blut im Auge and Ruf in den Wind. Unbesiegt has a Caribbean feel to it with some catchy and bouncy vibes going on that makes you wanna dance to it. Verrat has a heavy black metal influence to it with its cold atmosphere and nice tremolo picking and deep vocals that invoke anger and aggression.

My favorite song is Die Weide und der Fluss, this one is a masterpiece in songwriting and one of 2 masterpieces on the album. It's like a movie with fantastic arrangement and some emotional rollercoasters and it has one of the catchiest choir chants you will ever hear. All of this lead to a massive triumphant finale that almost brings me to tears everytime I listen to it. The second masterpiece of the album is Mana, a 16 minute instrumental that's as good as it gets musically, with well written melodies and symphonies, it starts aggressively and then quiets down to a soothing flute part that's out of this world, the song then builds momentum back again to ass kicking fast riffs and double bass, the song ends with another otherworldly flute part that has to be heard to be believed.

This album is the quintessential folk metal album in my opinion and basically flawless.

Storms and thunderlashes. - 75%

Diamhea, February 20th, 2018

For the last fifteen years or so, I've poked and prodded at folk metal, never truly getting anywhere with the style due to the prevalent lack of capable riffage. I always felt more at home with bands like Suidakra, who for example are a very respectable melodic death band with the folk elements serving as either utilitarian melodic ensconcement or window dressing. Even Ensiferum tends to push it too far for me, although I can always appreciate well done intros and interludes like "Ferrum Aeternum." Plus I could never stand the corny, "beer-swilling" shit. Looking at these Germans from Equilibrium, and what is certainly their best album - Sagas, it is almost as if certain elements of these styles are pushed to their logical extreme and beyond, yet with an instrumental armament that isn't nearly as diverse as one would expect.

Yes, one look at the liner notes proves that Sagas is far from the traditional instrument-suffocated cornball hogwash we tend to get from the style, which is nice. Never at any point during the record do I find myself cringing, although the band toes this line quite deftly on tracks like the stage-setting "Wurzelbert," which is a hyperactive shot to the arm that leads into the more poignant "Blut im Auge." Sagas is shockingly consistent during its first half, and up through "Snüffel" always feels like one big song to me - and it works well. Trust me that when I say something is truly epic, it's coming from a trained ear, not some charlatan using the word as a catch-all compliment. And Sagas is a fucking epic release, if only through pure constraining excess.

Riffs bite and claw their way to the forefront to get some sonic real estate, only to be summarily buried again by the folk melodies. It has heavy moments like the blistering "Verrat," so it isn't as lopsided as it could have been, but that only left me wanting more tracks like that, since Equilibrium seemed surprisingly capable in that particular niche. And "Snüffel" is probably my favourite track here, melding all of the disparate elements into a compact and memorable whole. It has riffs, grandiose, sweeping synths and some timely hooks. To go negative (and as expected), Sagas seriously drops the fuck off on the B-side. "Dämmerung" is decent but comes too late to wholly salvage proceedings. I have always struggled getting past "Snüffel" when listening to the record. It isn't that the band loses their stylistic footing, but any listener can only take so much of this kind of music in one sitting. It's a flaw of the genre more than the album itself.

Sagas clearly appeals to many, and I do count myself among this vast cadre - but it seems like an opportunity was missed here. This could have been a genre-defining modern classic if it kept its early momentum, although I suppose that Equilibrium made a damn good showing of it in any event. It's still a fun release, and manages to toe an extremely thin line regarding my personal taste. I really shouldn't enjoy this as much as I do, but it has largely held up over the last decade, which surprised me coming back to it.

New meaning to the word "epic".... - 98%

BlackMetal213, April 23rd, 2016

My first encounter with this album was actually when I was just getting into the genre of folk metal. This was the first Equilibrium album I had ever listened to, and to this day, remains my favorite from this band's entire discography. "Sagas" is truly an epic piece of music as a whole and, with it being German, only makes it even more epic! I honestly can't pinpoint the exact moment I became acquainted with this album, as I was listening to a lot of different bands around the time I first heard this. Korpiklaani, Ensiferum, and Turisas made up the majority of my folk metal library whenever I first heard this album, so in comparison, Equilibrium definitely was over the top and truly epic, and to this day, I still feel the same way.

This album tends to go back and forth with its mixture of folk, symphonic black, and Viking metal. This album is pretty fast paced most of the time, relying on furious riffs to give the album an overall blackened feel, and creating a truly epic atmosphere. Songs like 'Wurzelbert" and "Blut im Auge" remain fan favorites not only because of their speed and epic, folky atmosphere but also because of their theatrical, huge feel. Because of these high-speed riffs, there is almost a thrash metal influence on some of these songs. "Unbesiegt" contains one of the catchiest, "funnest" intros to any of the other songs on the album. This song almost gives off the atmosphere as a drinking song. You can just picture heroes in Valhalla sitting around with flagons of mead enjoying this tune. Interestingly enough, while these tracks are fast and furious, they still remain epic and atmospheric all at the same time. "Verrat" is probably the thrashiest tune on the album with its black metal fury and blast beats, and my personal favorite " Die Weide und der Fluß" remains the most atmospheric and epic track on the album. But really, all of these songs are atmospheric and epic.

This album makes extensive use of instruments such as the keyboard and flute to enhance the epic feel of the songs. One thing I've always admired about this band is their willingness to incorporate flutes into their music. Sure, there have been other bands to do this, but Equilibrium was one of the first of their kind to grace my ears. The drumming on this album tends to alternate between epic fills, double bass segments, and harsh blast beats. One of the band's primary black metal influences lies within the drum work. Sure we have tremolo guitars and harsh vocals that sound absolutely amazing, but the drums are really furious and heroic as well. If I could complain about the drums at all, I would say many of these songs do tend to follow a very similar pattern. This isn't too big an issue however; the drums still captivate a truly heroic and dark atmosphere.

Vocal wise, the most prominent style are harsh vocals with raspy black metal styled screams. Aside from some implemented choirs, there are no clean vocals on this album. This is basically just a black metal album with folk tendencies, so the harsh vocals remain the dominant style. When I first heard this album, I was fairly new to this style of vocal work, so it took a bit to get used to, but once I did, I was hooked. Equilibrium really hit the ball out of the park with "Sagas" and since this album, I really can't say they've done anything this good. This album will live on forever as an essential piece of folk metal.

Less inspiring than Turis Fratyr - 85%

PorcupineOfDoom, January 3rd, 2015

Equilibrium are great. Following on from their debut Turis Fratyr was always going to be difficult, but once again they show that they're a very accomplished set of musicians with their second full-length album. While it might not manage to outdo its predecessor, Sagas is still a great listen and thoroughly recommended.

Something I noticed in the band was a slightly more aggressive approach. The last time around the band were content to let the listener drift off to Middle Earth or wherever else while listening to the music, but on Sagas the band seem to be trying to demand that their music is noticed. It does have some rewards from doing this, because there are moments that would otherwise have passed me by that I'm glad I noticed, but as a result part of the atmosphere that I enjoyed so much is gone. It's a difficult one to call as to whether it was the right choice or not, and while it means that both albums have a different feel to them it also makes me lean more towards the former than the latter for sheer enjoyment.

The keyboards seem to be more prominent than before, but also with more variation. They occasionally have that flute-like quality about them, but for the most part they sound like the more common kind that just seem to be there to add a bit of emphasis. It feels more generic than before as a result, which is kind of sad. The band just seems so much less unique on Sagas than they did on Turis Fratyr.

The guitars are still solid, maybe even a step up from on their previous record. There are times when the same note gets played for a while, but there's actually quite a decent bit of variety in there. Considering that the keyboard seems to want all the limelight, that's a bit surprising. A lot of the songs on this album are high-speed and the riffs develop and almost thrashy feel to them, but that's not really a problem. The guitars are there to deliver the power for the band and also be the backbone with the drums, that much is made fairly obvious across the record.

Something worthy of a comment is the change of drummer. While on Turis Fratyr the drumming was bland and at times a little below par (not enough to detract from the record, but noticeable), the drumming here is very enthusiastic and much more varied. The guy gives the impression that he is genuinely engaged with the music and he brings something new to the table.

If you like a band for their wonderful lyrics and deep meanings and are limited to only speaking English, Equilibrium is not for you. In case you couldn't tell by the titles, this band do not write in English but rather in German. I'm quite glad they do this, because the band really sound like they're enjoying themselves as a result, which I'm sure would not be the case if it was written in English. If you really care that much then you can pick up a dictionary and translate what they're saying, but I'd guess the songs are about vikings and epic quests like so many other viking/epic metal bands.

Now, a comment about the song Mana. I know this stuff is supposed to be epic and the conclusion most of all (and to be fair, Mana is definitely the most epic song on the album), but is sixteen minutes not a bit like overkill? That's nearly twice as long as the conclusion to their last album, which still felt awesome. It is an epic song, there's no denying that fact, but does it really have to be that long? Probably just me being picky since there is a very small window of time that I like songs to fit into, but Mana just seems a tad overdone.

To conclude, I'll say what I said at the start: this album is great, no doubt about that, but it pales in comparison to the band's debut. If you want something really unique, I'd recommend listening to Turis Fratyr over Sagas.

Folk Power - 100%

andrea_thrasher, May 7th, 2011

We can see that most folk metal bands today came from Scandinavia, especially Finland, but Germany is where we will find this extremely unique band.

This is the second album and probably one of the best the band has released in its career. Now the style that Equilibrium play is unique and cannot be compared to any other metal band over there, the lead singer of the band is particularly good, achieving higher or lower screams. In this album there is an evolution of the sound beginning with folkloric touches of songs. The songs are more powerful and extremely more melodic than the previous album Turis Fratyr.

The first song of the album hits you straight in the face with the heavy sound of the guitar, keyboard, and flute, then goes into the powerful sound of epic metal with violent drums, showing what is to come for the rest of the album. An excellent example of this genius is the song Blut Im Auge. We find the battery very quickly, then the layer of folk and melodic sounds blend with the keyboard and guitar, and the vocals are very aggressive, alternating between the sharp and scratchy sound of black metal. We also have the song Mana which is completely instrumental and lasts about 16 minutes. This song is wonderful and will never cease to amaze you as speed changes and folkloric sounds make it one of the best on this album.

This album is incredible and would be great to have in your collection if you like fast, melodic, and folk with medieval themes. This album is worth it and you will not be disappointed after hearing it.

Highlights: Mana, Blut Im Auge & Ruf in den Wind.

Possibly the most epic album I have ever heard - 94%

Ingeld1066, April 21st, 2011

Out of all the more prominent bands in the current folk metal scene, Equilibrium have often been viewed as one of the most talented, both in terms of technical and songwriting abilities. 'Sagas' demonstrates to folk metal fans exactly why this is so. This album is perhaps one of the greatest contributions to the folk metal scene over the past decade.

The greatest merit of this album is certainly the incredibly epic melodies, which are present in just about every song on the album at various points, making bands like Ensiferum and Turisas sound conservative and dry in comparison. The plethora of melodic lines throughout this album are (for the most part) original and engaging, allowing the listener to enjoy the album in its entirety, while rarely losing interest in the music. Another improvement from their previous album, 'Turis Fratyr", is that the band got a new drummer on this album; one who realizes that playing one or two different rhythms per song can get annoying and repetitive rather quickly. The songwriting skills have also drastically improved. Sure their last album had great choruses, melodies, interludes, etc., but there were certainly fewer of these on the album and they were often a little too simplistic for my liking.

There are no weak tracks on this album, with the exception of 'Dammerung' and parts of 'Des Sangers Fluch'. On 'Des Sangers Fluch' the band takes a bit longer than usual to get musically involved in the song as musicians, causing it to sound meandering and a little dry. They make up for this by the end of the song, however. In 'Dammerung', the band seems to be playing a filler track, as there are few memorable melodies and the song takes forever to progress.

I would also like to mention the album's epic, 'Mana', which showcases the band's incredible songwriting abilities, as well as a variety of instruments including an excellent violin solo near the end of the song.

Overall a must buy for folk metal fans.

An average album - a let down from Turis Fratyr - 65%

Dragonscar, February 13th, 2010

Let me start by saying how wonderful Turis Fratyr was. It was a real original piece that was near perfect in consistency.

When I first heard that Equilibrium were bringing a new album out I was so excited. I was hoping they could carry on from the last and produce something even more outstanding. I don't think they managed to do that.

The album as a whole isn't bad. It's an average folk metal album that isn't great and isn't bad. Here are the things that I think brings the album down:

Recycled riffs and melodies - I hear vague keyboard and guitar melodies that I recognise from Turis Fratyr and even other songs on the album. I don't think they are running out of ideas already but there is only so much one can do with a sound as select as this without changing the band's sound as a whole.

Repetitiveness - This is a problem that brings the album down the most for me. Helge's vocals have the same rhythm and flow to them in nearly every song. There is somewhat of a lack of diversity in the vocal sounds in this album.

Don't get me wrong, Sagas is an album worth buying. It's a must for the folk metal fan. Now, lets get on to the good points.

Equilibrium have managed to keep the sound and soul of the music that can only be described as epic. They have encorporated a brilliant power metal-esque sound into their music that really takes you on a journey. The song "Verrat" is possibly the most angry and dark song Equilibrium have produced and it is fantastic. It's good to see that Equilibrium have the ability to create different atmospheres in their music without losing their characteristics. "Mana" is an incredible display of talent. A 16 minute long song that is pure epic folk metal wonder. Listening to Mana is like watching Lord of the Rings on a countryside walk with faries dancing around your feet. Okay, perhaps not but it's easy to see how brilliant the song is.

I'd say that this album could have been a lot better but it is, nontheless, a good album.

How Can they Top This? - 100%

zecharas, December 22nd, 2009

Equilibrium’s latest epic, Sagas, has become one of the best and most highly regarded albums to be released in the ever popular and growing folk metal genre. Sagas has taken a giant step forward from their debut, Turis Fratyr. The songs and melodies which appear throughout the album are so varied that the listener would always be in for a surprise, track after track, without ever dragging or becoming stale. Each song has its own character and style that really leaves no doubt about this release. Helge’s vocals have become more powerful and dominant on the album and are a great improvement from the debut. The musicianship and craftsmanship of the melodies and riffs throughout the album make for a real delicacy for the ears. There is no one song that qualifies as filler or sub-par. The album fluently and nearly flawlessly flows, with maybe one minor exception towards the end of the album.

Sagas can essentially be divided up into two parts: the first half being the shorter, more listener friendly songs (and I say that quite loosely), and the second half of the album contain the longer, much more complex songs and an interlude in the middle, which almost acts as an intermission. This is not only a folk/Viking metal album, but several genres are infused in the first half of this album, such as power metal, Viking/folk, black and ol’ fashioned heavy metal. The instrumental, “Prolog auf Erden,” acts as the opener and really sets the mood quite well for the rest of the album. Some instrumental openers often come across as quite boring and often skipped over, but this one offers bombastic elements, epic clean choirs and catchy melodies that really catch the listener from the start. The second track, “Wurzelbert,” continues with the ever-bombastic element found in the opener and adds great melodies and riffs. It has quite a bit of power metal influence. “Blut im Auge” continues in the same vein, but incorporates a very catchy melody and can be argued as one of the stronger songs on the album. Next comes what many consider the best of the album, “Unbesiegt.” The intro has a strong Caribbean feel which continues throughout the entire song, which really makes it the “fun” song of the album. “Verrat” is a complete turn in style from the previous songs. It has a strong black metal influence, which gives the song a darker feel to it, but by the end of the song, it still has an unmistakable, folky vibe. Another gem of the album comes with “Snüffel.” This is the most power metal influenced song on the album. It is fast and powerful, but also has one of the most catchiest breakdowns I have heard in a while, a la ZZ Top, and an ending that may make your head explode. One of the folkiest and shortest songs on the album comes with “Heimwärts.” It is very much in the vein of “Met” from their debut: short, fast, catchy and ultimately a favorite live song. “Heiderauche” serves as the beautiful instrumental interlude between the two halves of the album, setting up for an epic finish.

The second half of the album, as mentioned before, is the more complex, lengthy half. It begins with the seven minute “Die Weide und der Fluß,” which is a real treat for the ears. It begins quietly with a folky tune which quickly builds up to a bombastic middle and fading end. It is a hard song to describe and really should be listened to carefully to gain the full experience. The eight minute “Des Sängers Fluch” is one of the more complicated songs on the album. It took several listens for myself to really enjoy it fully. It is the most complex song thus far and is generally mid-paced throughout most of the eight minutes until it really speeds up towards the end. The next song could be that minor exception with the fluidity of the album I mentioned earlier. “Ruf in den Wind” is more in the vein of “Blut im Auge” and “Wurzelbert.” It is a faster-paced, folky song which is very catchy; it is just very out of place in the order of the album. Once you listen, you can gain an understanding of this. The second to last song is that of “Dämmerung.” It is a slower to mid-paced song with many folky melodies. The only problem that this song has is the vocals. Helge’s screams are really not up to par with the rest of the album, as well as his normal singing. Other than these flaws, it is a perfect song to precede the monster that is to follow, which is the sixteen minute instrumental, “Mana.” Yes, an instrumental of this magnitude could never work, right? Well any questioning of this song is really quickly put out. It is really a song that must be heard to be believed. It really puts the album all together so to speak. It portrays all those different genres that have been used and does it brilliantly. The violin solo near the end will send a shiver down your spine. It is the perfect closer to a perfect album.

Sagas is the one of the only albums which seems to be really flawless. The new Ensiferum epic, From Afar, comes close, but does not hit the spot like this one. It really shows the maturity of a young band and shows that they can be on par with folk metal greats such as Ensiferum and Moonsorrow. I recommend this album for anyone who is a fan of metal, but especially the folk/Viking genre in particular. It is something special and really has me looking forward to the future and seeing how they can possibly top this masterpiece…

A Modern-day Saga of Epic Proportions - 80%

MaDTransilvanian, November 29th, 2009

Say what you will about them, for a young band with only two albums in their discography Equilibrium have certainly made a name for themselves these last few years, mostly because of the inherently high quality of their debut album, Turis Fratyr. Theirs is an energetic and unmistakably German take on Folk/Viking metal à la Ensiferum, with considerably more aggression injected into the music and next to no clean vocals. The sophomore album thus had some pretty big shoes to fill, and the band delivered, although in a rather unique and unexpected way.

Indeed, Sagas is, if nothing else, a unique album in the world of metal, especially when compared to its stellar but somewhat unoriginal predecessor. That is, unique in the way it’s constructed and executed, because it essentially takes nearly all established elements of the folk metal genre and mixes them all together indiscriminately. The intensity which has now become impossible to dissociate from the band is apparent from the very beginning with the aptly titled Prolog Auf Erden, which is, especially during its second half, a cross between the standard introductory track from your usual folk metal album and a song in itself, with all band members joining in. The way this is executed, along grandiose lines, prepares the listener for what is to follow: and epic, intense, long monster of an album which never stops for nearly 80 minutes.

Nearly every song is constructed along the lines of fast paced, war-inspired folk/Viking metal with harsh vocals, energetic drumming, strong guitar work and supporting keyboards which function around the clock to give off as much of an epic feeling as is humanly possible. Among the most breakneck, thrashy songs are the opener Wurzelbert, Verrat, Snüffel and, to a slightly lesser extent, every other song save Unbesiegt, Ruf in den Wind, and the insanely long and complex epic closer, Mana. A lot of ideas are crammed into this long album and it fits together reasonably well, although at times, during the third quarter of the album, roughly from Verrat all the way to Des Sängers Fluch (inclusively), the album gets a little bit tedious and the songs tend to have quite little variation among them, with the various ideas placed in such a way as to make everything a bit of a blur even after many, many listens.

Those elements which stand out incredibly well from the rest are, for the most part, the songs which were previously mentioned as exceptions from the fast-paced, thrashier elements in the album. Unbesiegt is no less fast than the rest, but it’s unique because of the heavy use of non-metal instruments such as flutes, especially at the beginning and near the end, achieving a special atmosphere, very evocative of nature. Ruf in den Wind starts off like most of the other songs, but then proceeds into a beautiful melodic portion in the middle of the song before finishing with a section where vocalist Helge Stang uses a much lower tone of voice, close to the usual vocal style that many death metal vocalists use. To describe Mana in detail would take many words, just as the song itself takes many minutes, but suffice it to say that it’s one piece of extremely epic, instrumental-only work making full use of the band’s impressive talents with all of their various instruments, an absolute masterpiece which never ceases to amaze. It’s fast at times, slow at others, epic and most of all it provides a perfect ending for the album.

Equilibrium’s second album is a very interesting effort by one of the best folk metal bands today, providing a worthy, if slightly inferior, successor to the band’s legendary debut. Though the aforementioned, somewhat less original portion of the album may turn some away, the songs there are still too well-executed to be written off as mere filler and work towards an overall work which, if lacking those elements which work together to make an album flawless, nevertheless imposes respect by its high quality and continuous replay value.

Goofy if endearing epic metal - 80%

autothrall, October 31st, 2009

Turis Fratyr was a huge debut for this band, generating enough buzz to have the band counted among the upper echelon of the extreme folk metal scene, alongside Ensiferum, Finntroll, Thyrfing, etc. I thought it was a fun album, but not nearly as good as the hype it was riding. With their second release, Sagas, I sense an improvement in most areas. It's even more cheesy and bombastic, the synths are hilarious yet awesome, and the songwriting is quite good.

The glorious charge of "Prolog Auf Erden" begins the festival, almost immediately surpassed by "Wurzelbert"'s clarion call to victory. Through all the sweeping keyboards and Helge's Stang, what I love most here are the very solid guitar lines, building good riffs throughout that would probably work even without all the atmosphere smothering them. The rest of the album is fairly consistent with this song, there are a few mildly different tracks like "Verrat" with its more brazen, mid-paced grooving, driving opening verses, heavy on the guitar. "Heiderauche" is a pure atmospheric synth piece with percussion, and quite nice. Some of the album's best tracks are reserved for its closing moments, like the beautiful "Die Weide Und der Fluss" or "Mana".

In all you are getting over 70 minutes of music across the 13 tracks, so the value to quality ratio is enormous. The production here is excellent, the musicianship top notch, and the album also features some classical musician guests performing panpipes, violin, and so forth. If you're into the sweeping bombastic folk metal genre of Ensiferum, Turisas, Finntroll, Bal-Sagoth (the latter for the influence of the cheesy synth sounds) and others, Equilibrium has put together an epic here, which may at times feel silly, but don't they all? A job well done.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

An equilibrium within a complex blend. - 86%

hells_unicorn, March 23rd, 2009

Get ready to break out the ink soaked feather quill and the mile long roll of parchment because Equilibrium have just upped the ante on what the term epic actually entails. With all the classic Folk clichés at the forefront, followed by an army of keyboard sounds that could intimidate Rhapsody Of Fire and all of the bands they’ve influenced, “Sagas” is the perfect treat for any fantasy fiction fanatic who is fluent in coarsely vocalized German prose. Throwing caution and any iota of subtlety to the wind, this album is basically the most unapologetic thing to ever rise out of the Viking metal since the concept was pioneered by the likes of Bathory and Unleashed.

It’s important to note, that despite the conventional wisdom regarding folk/Viking metal, the style does lend itself to a good deal of variety. This tends to help and also hurt various bands within this label, as despite the very metal concept of Norse mythology and glory, many can wander off the map and lose sight of the musical aspects of the metal genre. Aside from the simplistic melodies, familiar chord progressions and obvious lyrical subjects, bands have a good deal of wiggle room in what they put in and take out of their sound. In the case of this album, nothing is really omitted, but a lot is added on, resulting in something that is heavily progressive, almost to the point of becoming akin to Skyfire’s work at times.

The comparisons to the older and non-folk oriented Swedish outfit in question go pretty far, as this basically blends a large number of melodic death, power and progressive ideas together into one complex, though slightly easier to follow whole. There’s a greater emphasis on the Rhapsody and Blind Guardian usage of string synthesizers, combined with the accordion and period instruments common to Turisas and Ensiferum, but occasionally off the cuff ideas are thrown in to make this very much its own beast. Two really obvious examples include “Unbesiegt” and “Snüffel”, the former of which is loaded with avant-garde moments almost akin to modern techno music, while the latter has a host of older Rock riffs thrown in here and there, essentially bringing a bit of Deep Purple and Jethro Tull to the halls of Wotan.

The biggest commonality this album holds with Skyfire’s work, particularly their debut “Timeless Departure”, is the large sounding production. That really grand character common in many modern film scores is present here, due in no small part to the incorporation of several famed guest musicians. If you took all of the instrumental epic “Mana” and broke it up into several parts, you’d likely have all you would need to score a Sci-Fi/Fantasy film from the opening to closing credits. The panpipe sections put forth by “Lord Of The Rings” famed flautist Ulrich Herkenhoff are unforgettable, upstaging much of what you’d often hear on a Fairyland album.

Vocalist Helge Stang proves to be one of the less versatile vocalists in this style, as he doesn’t try to match wits with Jari Mäenpää in the high end “Painkiller” vocal department, or even try to emulate the clean sung passages heard on Bathory’s Viking trilogy or many other folk outfits of yesterday and today. His approach is mostly in line with a various assortment of blackened death and melodic death metal vocalists, falling somewhere between the Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquillity) and Henrik Wenngren (Skyfire), though occasionally he leans towards a more guttural, Johan Hegg character on songs such as “Blut Im Auge” and “Des Sängers Fluch”, and pulls it off quite well.

The area where the album is held back a little is where all of these very well etched parts come together in the respective whole. There are some really good riff ideas mixed with some pretty catchy melodies, the beats are thrashy and fun, the vocals are passionately delivered, but each song is presented in a very similar format. Some songs almost become interchangeable with others, the various solo sections don’t really try to outdo the ones on the previous song, nor do they try to be more subdued, but are content to get the job done each time. Combined with a slight over-emphasis on quiet, atmospheric instrumental breaks, what ensues is a pretty longwinded and largely 2 dimensional sound. It’s slightly more interesting than what you’d get out of Amon Amarth and Norther, but it doesn’t have the same continuous fire and intrigue that you’d get from Ensiferum or Skyfire.

Ultimately this will appeal the most to melodic death oriented folk metal fans, particularly those who like the merging of pristine melodies and harsh vocal work who also complain that the Gothenburg scene wasn’t thrash/power metal oriented enough and dwell on tremolo riffs far too much. It may also carry some charm for those who really like the symphonic material being put out by Manowar of late. It’s definitely more aggressive and metallic than what some in this genre put forth, but it will likely not be as capable of crossing genre lines to the extent that Ensiferum has been able to. It’s a very good release for 2008, just edging out “Twilight Of The Thunder God” by my own reckoning, and is a worthy pickup.

Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on March 23, 2009.

The Saga of Pure Awesomeness continues - 95%

Crushader, December 31st, 2008

Widars Hallen, a song appearing on Equilibrium’s debut Turis Fratyr, was the first song I heard from this band that can be nowadays considered one of my favorites. Widars Hallen had everything to make a song exceedingly enjoyable: crushing majesty, astonishing speed and fabulous variety. I was hooked instantly. Widars Hallen naturally isn’t the only song on Turis Fratyr that fits the aforementioned description but only Wingthor’s Hammer really get close to it’s might. However, when I first listened to Sagas, it quickly became very clear that they’ve managed to make lots of songs that follow Widars Hallen’s guidance into the epic, Nordic, musical experience. Now, when we’ve left the year 2008 behind, I can say with all my heart that Sagas is the album of the year.

Sagas introduces us an awesome blend of folk/viking-, power- and melodic black metal supported by vast symphonic compositions. A very important feature of Sagas is its length. Sagas consists of 13 tracks and 80 minutes of music which is an amount that is hard to make thoroughly interesting. As you can very well guess by now, the members of Equilibrium have truly succeeded in this task. Practically every song is memorable, extremely catchy and/or deeply affecting. Sagas’ musical characteristics are constructed of a bunch of formulas. Usually songs start with an unbelievably cool keyboard- and/or some folk instrument-melody. Shortly after beginning other instruments kick in and expand the melody, creating a massive soundscape. The overall feeling mostly stays at the over-the-top-mode and the listener has no choice but to surrender himself/herself to the music. Guitars offer sharp riffs that strengthen the music and fierce, but surprisingly diverse, drumming keep the tempo fast. Bass is in an important, if quite basic, role, fulfilling the melodies. Helge Stang’s vocals are mainly blackish shrieks and screams but he has talent in the death growl-department too. Sometimes the music is backed with clean choirs but those are relatively distant and not so often used as commonly in folk/viking-metal.

It may be that some things I brought out above made you think that most of the songs on Sagas are almost identical to each other because of the similar basic structures. However, that’s not the case. Every song has a main theme that is easily distinguishable from the others and also has numerous ingenious hooks. These hooks can be unexpected structure-changes, exploding symphonic parts, mellow interludes etc. None of the songs leaves the listener cold though even Sagas has it’s weaker moments. The album begins with one of the best intros I’ve ever heard, Prolog Auf Erden. It sets the mood for the album brilliantly and proceeds flawlessly into the next song, Wurzelbert. Wurzelbert combines upbeat folk elements with straightforward metal attack in an unforgettable manner. The third song, Blut Im Auge, may be the best song on Sagas though that phrase can be almost used for about half of the songs. Blut Im Auge is a catchy, fast, insanely melodic and very headbangable song consisting of the best ingredients for enjoyment. Next comes Unbesiegt which is a little experimental track with occasional Latin American vibe, melodeath-esque parts and almost a disco-like, short interlude; all embedded inside Equilibrium’s style. Awesome! Ffith song is the crushing Verrat, the most aggressive song Equilibrium has made. Still, it retains the melodic features and folksy sound. Sixth track is the weak spot of Sagas, Snüffel. It is a good metal-song per se but with that traditional heavy metal feeling and stolen ZZ-top riffs, it doesn’t express the usual ingenuity of the band members. Seventh track Heimwärts is a speedy, short and cheerful piece of metal; catchy as hell.

The following song, Heiderauche, is a kind of a break that prepares you for the second part of this great journey. It’s an atmospheric keyboard-track, similar to TF’s Wald der Freiheit and Heimdalls Ruf. Ninth song is called Die Weide und der Fluss, a long epic with flowing and constantly changing theme. It’s a song that truly opened to me only after many listens. Tenth track, Des Sängers Fluch, is the other bit weaker effort among these 13 tracks. It’s a good, majestic folk metal-song but it isn’t very memorable and as such, doesn’t reach the average level of Sagas’ songs. The track number 11 is Ruf in den Wind, which greatly represents these Germans’ ability to make melodies that stuck in your head for a very long time, still not annoying you a bit. Next comes Dämmerung, a monumental song featuring a slightly darker side of Equilibrium. Last, but definitely not the least, track is Mana. I never thought that any band could make a 16-minute instrumental and still manage to keep it interesting in its entirety. But Equilibrium has succeeded in that constructing an awesomely epic ending to an awesomely epic album. Mana is like a one song-compilation of Equilibrium’s music: it varies from side to side, holding one’s attention all the time.

If you like fast, epic and mostly upbeat folk/viking-metal and want to experience something unique, get Sagas immediately. I hardly consider it possible that this would be a disappointment to you. So what are you waiting for?

the vivid future of folk-metal? - 80%

the_cloud_trigger, October 26th, 2008

Alas!, here we have the new release of Equilibrium. On Turis Fratyr they showed us a well produced, epic (yet progressively boring) folk/viking metal album. Here we have the long awaited sequel, 'Sagas' That breathes fresh new life into the folk/viking metal genre.

The first thing I noticed about this album is how upbeat it becomes relatively quickly. Plain and simple, this album is fun. Its never too serious, never too dark, just plain epic, headbanging, powerful, folk-metal fun. That being said, the track 'Die Weide und der Fluß' has to be one the catchiest folk-metal songs I have ever heard. Just about all the other tracks have some sort of redeeming catchiness too them as well, sometimes sounding more Caribbean or progressive than anything I have heard in this genre. Of course there is the epic closure to the album, 'Mana'. I have heard many different things about this song from fellow metalheads and reviews, but I personally love it. All the way through, it surprisingly kept my attention, and is just plain awesome shifting from proggy sounding keyboard parts to beautiful folksy fiddle parts. The production on this album is incredible as well, and has to be one the most impressively composed, fullest sounding viking metal albums I have ever heard, along with Moonsorrow's 'Verisäkeet' and Fjoergyn's 'Ernte Im Herbst'.

With all this praise, I of course have my gripes. First off, to listen to this album all the way through in one listen is like sitting through the entire LOTR trilogy in one sitting. Of course it is possible, especially if you can really get into it, but its just a bit too much, and in Sagas' case, just a seemingly bit too much repetition for an 'all the way through' listen. After the first time I listened to it all the way through, I had several doubts about it, but after I started listening to the album only a few songs at once, or just a single song at random, I began to hear how good this album actually is. Another complaint is the lack of variety in the vocals. Sure the singer has a good balance of higher screams and lower screams, and sure the use of choirs adds a ton to the overall quality, but there could have been more. For example there could have been parts where there is actual singing, or even some harmonies similar to Moonsorrow or Falkenbach, but there isn't. Also the use of female vocals would have been GREATLY accepted, to add that certain sense of beauty. I just think there could have been much more done in that area, and it kind of irks me that with all the musical, instrumental variety they didn't take this into consideration. There are some parts that sound just plain awful as well, for example in 'Blut im Auge' towards the middle, it breaks into this weird groovy sounding part, I don't even know how to explain it, but its just plain bad. This happens in some other songs as well, so beware...

So don't get this album unless you like Equilibrium or want some epic, truly fresh sounding folk-metal. Just to put it out there, I am quite picky about the 'folk-metal' and (yes I hate saying it too), 'viking' metal genres in general, and bands like Finntroll, and Eluveite, I personally think suck pretty bad. I honestly think this album as well as 'Turis Fratyr' has proved Equilibrium to be one of the most astounding newcomers to folk-metal, and are hopefully here to stay, because even after the line up changes of only their first album, they have proved to be creative, skillful songwriters that have yet to disappoint.

Same old stuff with more cheese added - 34%

Ilwhyan, September 30th, 2008

Equilibrium's 2008 album, ”Sagas”, is a collection of elements by famous folk metal bands, combined with the band's own trademark: fast paced folk metal with excessive use of keyboard melodies. In other words, ”Sagas” offers nothing even remotely new, and while folk metal isn't exactly the most diverse metal genre and not many of the bands are truly original, Equilibrium's music sounds all too familiar. The album is like a collection of ideas by Finntroll, Ensiferum and some other folk metal bands, but turned happier, cheesier, but at times, also more epic. ”Turis Fratyr” is a better album to start with as it actually showcases elements that are characteristic to mostly Equilibrium, not every single other folk metal band. At times, however, there are some heavy melodic riffs that, when put into the context that is Equilibrium's folk metal, sound almost refreshingly original, and in songs like ”Mana” the band succesfully mixes elements from power metal creating very epic, melodic and well flowing metal. If the band was actually able to make it mix better with the rest of their elements, the album would surely work better.

On top of typical metal instrumentation (and mix where bass can't be heard at all), Equilibrium uses a lot of keyboards. They mostly play Finntroll-esque epic melodies with a touch of folk – a considerable one at that – but most of the time, the focus is on epicness and grandness. ”Sagas” also features other folk instruments that are often heard in folk metal, as well as a panpipe, which, at times, plays a fairly remarkable role. The vocals are mostly high-pitched shrieks, somewhat reminiscent of Mika Luttinen of Impaled Nazarene, but the vocalist also uses some death growls. The folkish parts are done well, but sadly, they often fail to relate to the metal parts. Keyboards steal the show constantly to add most of the epic feel to the music that the guitars alone fail to deliver: the guitars are mostly used for rhythm purposes, mainly fast gallop rhythms à la Ensiferum, and at times, they also play some tremolo picked riffs (usually on top of, or rather, drowned by, keyboards playing the same melody). There are also some fast guitar leads, almost like short solos, that never seem to go anywhere. The drums are played fairly well, though they're not loud enough in the mix, and while the fills are good, they don't have much effect as they can barely be heard.

At best, the epic parts are truly grand and the band succeeds at creating a spirit of battle, much like Turisas, and at times, Ensiferum. In general, the music is happy, cheesy and epic, and the best parts are quite atmospheric. However, especially in happiness and cheesiness, Equilibrium goes a little over the top at times. ”Prolog auf Erden”, the intro, is an example of how to do it correctly. Sadly, a great amount of the rest of the album is not. In many songs, like ”Blut Im Auge”, there are excellent parts that truly embody the spirit of epic battles, but instead of building up into a climax or having epic parts followed by more epicness, there are completely pointless parts that ruin the atmosphere completely. Not unlike Finntroll, Equilibrium sometimes ends song very suddenly, but it rarely works: attempts at epicness are more often ruined than augmented by those sudden endings. Another example of a badly realised good idea is ”Unbesiegt”. A catchy folk-melodeath song, it has folkish Eluveitie-esque rhythms and riffs, but Equilibrium fails to combine those elements with their trademark style, creating over six minutes of indecisive mess. Among some very good parts, there are also incredibly bad ones, and better songwriting could have saved the song from being poor. There are also songs that are almost entirely enjoyable thanks to songwriting: the songs actually build up, which helps to show the epicness better. However, the climaxes always seem lacking, despite how epic the song tries to be, and eventually, they add completely pointless and unrelated parts that ruin the entire song. That applies to almost every song: the few positive stand-outs are on the latter half of the album, songs such as ”Die Weide und der Fluß” and ”Mana”, and the latter is likely the best and most epic song on the entire album.

For fans of Ensiferum, Finntroll, Turisas, Eluveitie and similar bands, ”Sagas” will hardly be a disappointment. Those who detest any of these bands, particulary if it's because they're too cheesy or melodic, should stay far from this album. Fans of said bands will surely appreciate this album as ”Sagas” is essentially a mess of elements taken from different folk metal bands. That alone doesn't make an album terrible though – which ”Sagas” really isn't – but the styles are mostly combined very poorly, making ”Sagas” rather painful to listen at times. The good parts are truly good, but all the excessive folkish keyboard nonsense, irrelevant parts and overall incoherence do a great job at ruining this album. Considering all the pointless rubbish Equilibrium has littered all over the album, ”Sagas” certainly won't change anyone's opinion on folk metal, at least not in a positive sense.

True Masterpiece - 100%

Viking_Horde, August 14th, 2008

Equilibrium finally return with a followup to their very strong debut album, Turis Fratyr. I was a little nervous about this one, because I had such high expectations and I knew their keyboardist had left the band since. However, the quality of music that Equilibrium put forth in this album has not receded, and has even been enhanced. Whoever was in charge of doing the synth for this album did a hell of a job. This time around, the music is a lot more in depth. Most notably are the drums, which sound less mechanic in this album (although I never really minded them in the last album). They sound more distinct now, and add a nice dimension to the music. The vocals have also improved, with a vaster range of screams and growls that keep you entertained. The guitars get to shine a little more also, with some really memorable riffs thrown in as well. And of course the synths which are very complex, including multiple tracks that create a unique sound.

Each song narrates a folk tale of some kind, and although they're all in German and hard for most to understand, really tell interesting stories. The overall feeling of this album is one of happiness. It has a rather uplifting sound to it. Some metalheads dont like it when their music isnt grim and frostbitten and/or brutal, but if you just take this album for what it is, you should enjoy it. It's definitely joyful and somewhat playful, and has some elements that metalheads arent used to. Be happy for once and enjoy something new. The music is there, you can tell they have a lot of talent. There's lots of harsh screaming still. It's definitely better than Finntroll in my opinion. They aren't like anyone else, and in metal that's pretty hard to do.

As far as songs go, the epic 16+ minute Mana is a really amazing instrumental and I highly reccomend listening all the way through. Snuffel gets points for incorporating some blues elements (I don't listen to blues but I found it really fun). My favorite overall though would have to be Unbesiegt. I think it personifies the band's style and creativity. Every song on here is great to listen to though, there's not a dull moment.

So in conclusion, get this fucking album! It may take a little getting used to when you hear songs like Wurzelburt and Heimwarts, which are very light-hearted songs, but by the end of the album, you'll be really glad you gave it a listen. I think this is the top release for 2008 so far. Can't wait for the next one!

Hoping the saga will continue! - 93%

archi_, August 11th, 2008

We can see a kind of wave of folk metal bands these days, usually coming from Scandinavia. But it’s from Germany that Equilibrium is from and their second album, Sagas, will surely make people talk about.

We can say folk, because yes, many of the melodies will make you dance (or drunk), but we must say also symphonic. The symphonies parts are massive and beautiful, worthy of the greatest film score composers. The album begins with a usual intro of symphonies following by Wurzelbert that impose their sonority as of the beginning with some dramatic intro and aggressively melodic guitar righs. After, it’s Blut im Auge, taking us along a world of fantasies. Black metal influences are there, especially on Verrat, but like all the songs, there’s always a folkish melody hiding somewhere. Heimwärts is a really short song but sounds really happy, Heiderauche (instrumental part), oppositely, sounds sad but contains some really catchy music sticking itself to your tympanums.

They distinguished from others folk metal band adding to their music some exotic sonorities, especially with the intro of Unbesiegt, surely the best track of this CD and their future hymn. The album finished with a masterpiece of 16 minutes length, called Mana, making us diving in a “hollywood/lord of the ring atmosphere”, what I usually love in metal music. All their lyrics are in German, but who cares?! Just focus on the sublime music.

If you’re a folk metal fan, don’t miss this CD. I’m just asking to myself how they will do better in the next years, so good Sagas is.

One of, if not THE best Viking metal albums EVER! - 95%

Baalslayer28, June 30th, 2008

After three long years since their critically acclaimed debut, “Turis Fratyr”, Equilibrium have finally returned to the metal scene with their long awaited follow-up, “Sagas”. A few line-up changes have been made, apparently all of them have been for the better. Virtually everything on “Sagas” has been improved upon from the already outstanding debut. The production is fuller, the riffs are catchier, the vocal lines are sharper, the keyboards and folk instruments are more pre-dominant, even the drums and bass have been slightly improved. There is over 80 minutes of music on “Sagas”, so lets discuss some of the songs themselves.

“Wurzelbert” and “Blut im Auge” are your typical Equilibrium numbers, always up-beat and catchy all the way, both at times resembling material from the band’s debut.

“Unbesiegt” is one of my personal favorites off the album. It features a tribal-like rhythm through use of thundering bongo drums and ambient nature sounds, making for an evocative listen. “Verrat” is probably the band’s heaviest track to date. It features black metal-esque blast beats and attains a darker/more sinister atmosphere than the band’s typical material.

After the song “Snüffel”, “Heimwärts” follows. The track is very similar, both in vibe and length to the fan favorite classic off the debut, “Met”. This time, the band opts for more up-beat, humpa influenced melodies, not unlike what one would find in a typical Finntroll anthem.

Following a short instrumental interlude comes another favorite of mine, the 7-minute epic, “Die Weide und der Fluß”. I can’t believe how epic this song gets, the choirs in this track are absolutely huge! We’re also pummelled with epic riff after epic riff, and a great vocal performance to boot.

Skipping ahead now, after three more awesome Viking metal tunes as in the slower paced “Des Sängers Fluch”, the folky “Ruf in den Wind”, and “Dämmerung”, comes the 16-minute album closer, “Mana”.
When I first glanced at the tracklisting and track lengths for “Sagas”, I assumed “Mana” was just an Outro containing hidden material buried deep within the massive 16-minute duration. After hearing the song, I’m certainly glad my initial assumption was wrong! I can’t say enough about this track, the word “Epic” doesn’t even do it proper justice. Right from the beginning, the listener is immersed within the vast variety of sonic soundscapes and ever changing atmospheres, from gigantic church-like choirs to monumental riffs, from calm, folky flute passages to black metal blasting and back again, this song has it all. By far one of the most original and majestic slabs of Viking metal you’ll ever find.

It is really amazing how rapidly Equilibrium have attained such a high level of musicianship, this album only being their 2nd full-length release. Who knows where they will take it from here? One thing’s for sure, this album will be on a lot of “album of the year” lists, and is certainly the best Viking/Folk metal album to come out over the last few years. Fans of the Viking/Folk sub-genre can pick up this album blindly and rest assured that they have just secured themselves a masterpiece. Even heavy metal fans outside the Viking metal realm should give this album a shot, I highly recommend it!

Perhaps Jari Mäenpää of Wintersun will have an answer for this with his long awaited sophomore effort, “Time”? One can only ponder.

Absolutely Epic. - 100%

VastiiaMortifera, June 28th, 2008

When I first got my hands on this disc, I have to be honest here, I was a little worried about it. I had heard the news of the departure of three members, which gave me a bad image of a totally different sound, and I was also worried about this disc not being up to par with Equilibrium's previous gem "Turis Fratyr'. Though, as soon as this album began to play, all my worries went down the drain.

Equilibrium stays quite true to their viking/folk metal sound even with the departure of 3 original members. This enitre album has been done magnificently. Nothing stands out too much, therefore getting annoying, and nothing is too far in the background causing a lack of substance. The vocal melodies are great, the guitar riffs are well written and always interesting, the drums have lost the overbearing (at least in my opinion) sounds they once had in 'Turis Fratyr', the bass is actually existant in many songs, and the keyboards are just the cherry on top of everything. Even though I hail 'Turis Fratyr' as one of the greatest viking/folk metal discs of all-time, I actually believe this disc is better.

As I mentioned earlier, Equilibrium did stay true to their original sound, though that did not stop them from adding some outside elements into their music. If you listen closely, there are alot of bluesy guitar riffs thrown into their music, which add a nice touch and make for a fresher sound. This is best exemplified in "Snuffel" where the bluesy riffs are abundant. Also, if you listen closely around the 3:25 mark of 'Snuffel' they openly use the opening riff to ZZ-Top's song 'La Grange'.

All in all, Equilibrium's "Sagas" is a viking metal masterpeice. Anyone who was a previous fan of Equilibrium's will NOT be disappointed by this release, they might actually pee themselves in amazement. And if you're not a previous fan, I suggest that this be the first album you hear. It's definitely gotten my two-thumbs up, and it has my vote for the best metal album released in 2008.

Equilibrium - Sagas - 100%

Khull, June 27th, 2008

Sagas is the much anticipated follow-up to Equilibrium's debut album, Turis Fratyr. Having had three band members depart since their debut, one has to ask themselves if it's reasonable to expect Sagas to live up to and surpass Turis Fratyr. Rest assured, whereas there are uncountable cases where losing band members has crippled a band, this is not the case with Equilibrium.

To best sum up Sagas' music in one word: Matured. As soon as the first song starts it becomes quite clear to the listener (Assuming said listener has previously listened to Turis Fratyr) that Equilibrium has decided to continue mastering their previous style of music, rather than to continue along in a different, or merely similar, direction. For those unfamiliar with their musical style, Equilibrium plays an intense blend of folk and viking metal with trace influences of power metal.

For me, there were three key aspects of Sagas that truly stood out. First, Helge Stang and his improved vocals. His voice clearly thunders above all other musical aspects, as opposed to being the same tone as all other instruments (Not that it ever was, simply that it's not). No, the risk of being drowned out is far from present. Also, he's done very well in improving the overall quality of his voice, his growling and screeching feel much more powerful.

Second, the drumming. Of the three band members who left, their drummer was one. Their replacement is nothing short of astounding. Gone are the constant “tick-tick-tick-tick” double bass of Turis Fratyr, and in their place are drums presenting an even more powerful and lively sound. Nowhere do the drums act as filler, or dull, but rather as another essential aspect of each song.

Third, the overall atmosphere presented in this album. Whereas Turis Fratyr had a, dare I call it, cliché happy-go-folksy tone to it most of the time, Sagas feels far less cheerful. Indeed, this is best seen on Verrat, 5th track, which easily appears to be Sagas' , possibly Equilibrium's, heaviest, and most aggressive song.

Again, those are simply the three characteristics that stood out for me. In addition, the guitar work has improved greatly, and the folk instruments are all absolutely essential, even adding a certain bombastic feeling in each song. Also, the variation in song length merits mention. Songs clock in as short as 2:31/4 (Heiderauche and Heimwärts) and as long as 16:23 (Mana). Filler songs are non existent, and as such choosing a “highlight” is extremely difficult, however Snüffel was my personal favorite.

Equilibrium has proven that they mean business in the music world. A loss of members doesn't phase them in the slightest, but instead allows them to come right back and compose even more intense, wonderful, and masterful music. Originally, I had planned to knock Sagas on not delivering anything innovative, but soon realized how silly that would've been.

Even if folk / viking metal are not your particular cups of tea, missing out on the chance to add Sagas to your collection would be a dear mistake. Check it out!