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Talk about an improvement! - 85%

dweeb, May 4th, 2010

Siegfried is a blackened symphonic power metal band from Austria and this is their third studio CD. The songs are generally extremely epic, dramatic, exciting, aggressive power metal with pervasive black metal touches, along with frequent theatrical passages. A typical song will feature hard, fierce, driving lead guitar riffs supported by fast tremolo drumming warmed up by epic keys and strings, with frequent transitions to heavy, ominous, mid-paced doom / death metal passages as well as aggressive symphonic movie-score acoustic ones. The songs are sung in German and based on Germanic mythology of the Nibelung, a powerful and wealthy royal family, and tell their stories of war, valor and deception.

The songs have the bombastic grandiose triumphant feel of fellow Viking / pagan metal bands like Ancient Rites and Turisas, though perhaps the band closest in style is Crimfall due to the vocal similarity. Siegfried features the superb female vocalist Sandra Schleret (formally of Dreams of Sanity, currently also the vocalist for Elis) as well as harsh male vocals from Bruder Cle and epic male vocals from Werner Bialek. Sandra’s vocal performance is simply amazing; she is soaring and expressive throughout, with a nice mix of dramatic triumph and sultry smoothness; I would venture to say this is her finest vocal performance to date, and that is saying a lot. Bruder’s black vocals are especially fierce and harsh, often snarling; along with the black metal elements in the drums and guitars, they greatly contribute to the fierce aggressiveness of many of the songs. Werner’s excellent clean vocals, along with the majestic keys and strings, add additional warmth and triumph to the songs.

Nibelung stands head-and-shoulders above Siegfried’s first two CDs, Drachenherz and Eisenwinter. Both CDs suggested promise but, while solid and exciting in many respects, both suffered from a lack of variety outside the blackened power metal as well as a certain thinness of production that diminished the impact of their epic arrangements. Nibelung has a captivating variety of styles blended to perfection, along with a clear, heavy, though still somewhat aggressive production – the combination makes for one of the most engaging Viking / pagan metal CDs released in the last few years.

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