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Equilibrium - "Erdentempel" (CD)

Equilibrium - "Erdentempel" CD cover image

"Erdentempel" track listing:

1. Ankunft
2. Was Lange Währt
3. Waldschrein
4. Karawane
5. Uns'rer Flöten Klang
6. Freiflug
7. Heavy Chill
8. Wirtshaus Gaudi
9. Stein Meiner Ahnen
10. Wellengang
11. Apokalypse
12. The Unknown Episode

Reviewed by on May 27, 2014

"If you love pagan metal, slightly blackened (but not too crispy) with a penchant for huge overtures and flair for dramatic cinematic soundscapes, then Equilibrium may have just created your album of 2014."

When Bathory blazed the trail for what would become “Norwegian style” black metal, the single greatest offshoot from that style was the forging of “Viking metal,” once again founded by Thomas Borje Foresberg (a/k/a “Quorthon”). This dramatic, more theatrical machination of an extreme style added depth, dimension, and melody for those who wanted more than the blurred hum of speed and screams. Since that point, literally thousands of bands added to the legacy, some doing nothing more than adding a slicker produced cloned version, while others have made their own unique path. The standouts in the current era include such greats as Turisas, Korpiklaani and Ensiferum. Then there is Germany’s Equilibrium, which combines the best elements of all of them with the added dose of Alestorm charm and Nightwish majesty at times.

The 2013 EP “Waldschrein” harkened the coming of “Erdentempel,” the band’s fourth full-length studio album. In terms of song writing, thematic soundscapes, and dramatic movie scores, Equilibrium keeps taking leaps and bounds above other like acts in each album cycle and it is a total shame that on the eve of releasing this finest achievement, the band loses important members with the departure of Andreas Volki and wife Sandra van Eldi.

With phenomenal folk elements, blistering riffs, and gargantuan cinematic soundscapes, Equilibrium takes the listener on a pilgrimage where images of longboats, battles, victory songs, and beer soaked parties around raging fires instantly come to mind. One of the standout tracks “Freiflug” is by far one of the best Viking song representations that has graced this author’s ears. Rich in pride and expertly played – it’s impossible not to get caught in its melodic web and earthly tones. This is followed by the best song on the album “Heavy Chill,” which is too hard to describe with words. Suffice to say that if you took the movie style of Turisas’ “Stand Up and Fight” and added a tiny pinch of reggae and 80’s Men at Work, it will give you a slight idea. This song has literally shot up the ranks of one of the coolest tracks in recent memory.

As if that wasn’t enough, Equilibrium unsheathes the Onkel Tom inspired “Wirtshaus Gaudi,” and suddenly the polka infused schlager has made this one of the most enjoyable Viking albums in years. It easily outdoes my previous favorite “Stand Up and Fight” and is light years more exciting than Ensiferum’s “Victory Songs.” “Apokalypse” has a blasting Amon Amarth feel to it, speed is well represented in the opener “Was Lange Wahrt,” and the highly proficient cinematic closer “The Unknown Episode” ranks among the album favorites. With the use of so many different instruments a la Eluveitie, “Erdentempel” is an affluence of folksy perfection.

If you love pagan metal, slightly blackened (but not too crispy) with a penchant for huge overtures and flair for dramatic cinematic soundscapes, then Equilibrium may have just created your album of 2014. “Erdentempel” is tremendous fun and a ferociously entertaining album. The melodies sweep you away to a land where beer, battle, and bravery make real world problems melt away like the suds in your favorite stout. It will certainly be interesting to see whether Equilibrium can top this album with lineup changes on the way.

Highs: A highly entertaining cinematic folk/pagan metal masterpiece.

Lows: Fans looking for a full-on black metal blast beat assault won't find it here.

Bottom line: Equilibrium went out and built a ginormous 'earth temple'...now worship!

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

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)