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Suidakra - "Eternal Defiance" (CD)

Suidakra - "Eternal Defiance" CD cover image

"Eternal Defiance" track listing:

1. Storming The Walls
2. Inner Sanctum
3. Beneath The Red Eagle
4. March of Conquest
5. Pair Dadeni
6. The Mindsong
7. Rage For Revenge
8. Dragon's Head
9. Defiant Dreams
10. Damnatio Memoriae
11. Mrs. McGrath (Bonus track)

Reviewed by on July 2, 2013

"'Eternal Defiance,' even in its low acoustic moments, shines as bright as any early In Flames, modern Amorphis, or any Eluveitie album, exceeding even Ex Deo in the grandeur of its symphonic parts."

With 18 years invested in the world of heavy metal, it's not hard to see how Suidakra positioned itself to last in the long run rather than fading out after a few great albums. Suidakra's shtick has always revolved around mythology and battles of legend throughout history, with a keen eye for lyrical character development over the last few albums. "Eternal Defiance" sees the band taking on the compelling Welsh story of The Dream of Macsen Wledig, better known as Magnus Maximus, the former Emperor of the Western Roman Empire.

It's a safe bet to assume that 90% of listeners won't know of the story, but Suidakra is hell-bent on giving them a reason to care about it, if only for the reward of making the listener feel educated while they headbang along. The mythos can be summed up pretty easily: the Emperor of Rome sees a woman from a far-off land in his dreams that he wants, everyone accompanies him to Wales (or else he'd kill them?), they find her (her name is Elen), and she accepts him just like in his dreams (riiiight...), but a new Emperor overtakes his throne while he's away (raise your hand if you didn't see that coming. Nobody?) He goes back with the aid of Elen's brother and an army and overtakes Gaul and Italy, recapturing Rome like a badass.

With that in mind, now you can feel like you're in on the emperor's expedition and battles. Fortunately for you, this means a consistent melodic dual-guitar attack, bagpipes shouting a war cry, powerful female vocals, ridiculously fun charging drumming, and lots of fist-raising. Unfortunately for you, this also means that everything is super-loud, just like a real battle should be. The mix is clearer than "Book of Dowth," their last album, but still tightly-packed and a bit distorted, although far from sloppy or lacking in production standards. The lyrics are unfortunately hard to distinguish and will require the liner notes.

"March of Conquest" and "Rage For Revenge" show the band at its best, creating melodies at breakneck speeds that feel at once both vintage and modern. "Beneath The Red Eagle," "Storming The Walls," and "Rage for Revenge" allow a bit of classical instrumentation for dramatic effect, making a large soundscape fitting of a Roman Emperor. "The Mindsong" shows just how similar Suidakra's style is to traditional folk song-tales, whipping up acoustic instruments, percussion, and violins into a feverish dream of longing.

The sympathetic undertone of the bagpipe in "Pair Dadeni" tends to get in the way of the actual root note of the verses, but it's the only spot on an otherwise spotless 11th album. "Dragon's Head," "Defiant Dreams," and "Damnatio Memoriae" end the legend as triumphantly as it was begun, with the final song leaning towards somber, but picking up to look upon the legend in a good light. At this point in Suidakra's career, any new album should be mandatory listening material and its consistency envied by other bands.

"Eternal Defiance," even in its low acoustic moments, shines as bright as any early In Flames, modern Amorphis, or any Eluveitie album, exceeding even Ex Deo in the grandeur of its symphonic parts. As the band looks upon history's myths and legends fondly, history will likely look upon "Eternal Defiance" the same.

Highs: "Rage For Revenge" and "March of Conquest"

Lows: "Pair Dadeni"

Bottom line: A tale of myth, accompanied by grand and folk-influenced melodic power metal.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)