Equilibrium – Erdentempel (Nuclear Blast)Sunday, 15th June 2014
The idea of having fun is generally one that is poo-pooed in metal. There’s this stereotype of stoic evil, lending credence to that guy you always see at a metal concert. You know the type: standing there, looking pissed-off with arms folded tightly across his chest, barely even headbanging because he’s so intent on staring so deeply into the band playing that he sees a part of their souls. There’s nothing wrong with this of course, but Equilibrium is not a band you will find this caricature supporting.
Equilibrium is and always has been about having some epic fun with your metal. The band’s Ensiferum meets Finntroll meets Bal-Sagoth approach always aimed for an upbeat, grandiose version of folk/Viking metal that knew exactly how to blur the line between heavy and goofy. After Rekreatur seemed to push things a too dark, Erdentempel shows the band going back more towards the battle cry-ridden, beer-chugging folk that they seemingly perfected on Sagas. From the seemingly ‘80s-inspired chorus of “Heavy Chill” to the carnival-esque “Wirtshaus Gaudi” to folk grandeur of “Waldschrein,” Equilibrium has finally returned with the high-energy fun you have been longing for. If you can make it through “Uns’rer Floten Klang” in its entirety without moving or even cracking a smile, you may need to check your pulse.
There are also the more “serious” tracks such as “Stein Meiner Ahnen,” “The Unknown Episode” (the band’s first English sung track), and “Karawane” that are sure to make you dig out your old Nerf sword from the closet and pretend you are in the middle of a climatic battle. Never one to shy away from lengthy albums, Erdentempel is no different (with the bonus track, it’s well over an hour) but the varied tempos and tones allow for a mesmerizing listen.
There is a bit of sorrow that comes with listening to Erdentempel as two founding members have since departed (Andreas Volkl and Sandra Van Eldik). How this will affect the band has yet to be determined, but the band has survived past shake-ups and will surely find a way to persevere. For now, Erdentempel stands as a solid piece of folk metal that’s not afraid to have a little fun. While it may not best Sagas, there are moments when it comes pretty close.