Sagas Of Iceland
Rebellion - Sagas Of Iceland (History Of The Vikings Vol. 1) - 2005 - Massacre Records
|Track Listing1. In Memoranduum Lindisfarnae |
2. Ynglinga Saga (To Odin We Call)
3. The Sons Of The Dragon Slayer (Blood Eagle)
4. Ragnhild's Dream
5. Harald Harfager
6. Eric The Red
7. Freedom (The Saga Of Gang Hrolf)
9. Sword In The Storm (The Saga Of Earl Hakon, Protector Of Norway)
10. Blood Rains (The Saga Of King Olaf Trygvason)
11. Ruling The Waves
12. Canute The Great (The King Of Danish Pride)
13. Harald Hadrade
I think the actual image of heavy metal has changed dramatically. Two decades ago the image of heavy metal was very disturbing, with long hair, black leather, and a very anti-social attitude emphasizing a rough and tumble attitude. Lyrics were predominantly either sexual, occult oriented, or simply violent. If you look at bands like Metallica, Slayer, or Mercyful Fate, there isn't a whole lot of education lying within the lyric jacket, nor is there much coming from those speakers stacked to the ceiling. Today's metal world is really a lot different, with so many bands taking on more of an educational stance. You can look at albums like Iced Earth's "The Glorious Burden", Blind Guardian's "Nightfall In Middle Earth", Jag Panzer's "Thane To The Throne", and a host of others. Each of these records explores history in some fashion, or they simply take our minds and our brains to another realm where a message or clear theme can be brought to life. With schools and classrooms being the most difficult setting these days to instruct and educate youngsters, what better way than music to educate our youth? Heavy music at that.
Rebellion are an educational band, but first and foremost they are the perfect heavy metal act. Combining on the old school philosophies of Accept, Grave Digger, Scorpions, and Manowar, Germanic power metal group Rebellion once again go to the drawing board, this time showing the world the fantastic history of the Vikings. I, for one, find this topic just mesmerizing, never quite finding enough literature here in the US to fully expand on the Viking history. Now this band does it for us, recapturing that "medieval" epic sound found on there debut, the exceptional "Tragedy In Steel", which of course was the story of MacBeth put to music. In much the same way that the debut unfolded, "Sagas Of Iceland" is filled with spoken passages, a cast of characters, and an unbridled passion to deliver the metal goods.
Songwriting wise this one is just an amazing read, with a huge portion of the viking history and culture explained in depth. Four pages of the lyric booklet cover a period ranging from 793 A.D. to circa 1066, with sections of that history analyzed through each track's lyrics. Bassist Tomi Gottlich, who at one point or another was an English professor, wrote all of the lyrics and really did a fantastic job in recreating these warriors for a modern day vision. The album just springs to life, with enough drama, romance, and action to please scholars and music fans alike.
Musically this one is on the same page as the previous two records ("Tragedy In Steel", "Born A Rebel"), with plenty of fast double bass, Teutonic styled riffs, and the talented pipes of one Mr. Michael Seifert. I have said it more than once but I will say it again, Seifert is probably one of the best metal vocalists of the modern age. His register is both deep and high, really able to spark any type of mood or life into any track, no matter what the atmosphere or music suggests. He uses his deep voice for spoken passages on "Harald Harfager", or he simply displays a slower singing style evident on "Canute The Great" and "Treason". New drummer Gerd Lucking makes his debut with the band here, replacing famed skinsman Randy Black. Lucking shows off his skills in grand style here, really picking up where Black left off and showcasing that same fire and intensity behind the kit. Uwe Lulis once again plays the part of the mad axeman, performing some solid fare for this genre, but really standing out among the rest with his amazing speed and catchy hooks.
This album is rich with mood and atmosphere, with cuts like "Harald Harfager" just wind swept batterings, heavily hitting home the barabaric Viking lifestyle. "The Sons Of The Dragon Slayer" and "Eric The Red" just explode off the disc, both lifted highly with a smooth, calculated main riff and Gottlich's perfectly planned chorus parts, which clearly demonstrate how important hook really is. "Treason" and "Freedom" are slower paced affairs, never quite emerging from mid-tempo, but still solid cuts. The opener, "Yngling Saga", really sets the mood for the whole album, with a Lulis warlike march put to pace with Gottlich's tale of Viking "dragons" on the horizon. Other great tracks here are the heavily distorted "Canute The Great", the weary eyed "Ragnhild's Dream", and strong closer "Harald Hadrade". In other words, completely solid and stacked top to bottom.