Equilibrium - Armageddon review
|Release date:||August 2016|
05. Born To Be Epic
06. Zum Horizont
07. Rise Again
11. Eternal Destination
Armageddon reveals the beginnings of a shift in Equilibrium's style - sometimes a flattering shift, other times less so. This album pulls the band in a couple of different ways with a rather mixed result that has garnered some even more mixed reactions.
Outside a couple of isolated tracks, Armageddon doesn't have much claim to the folk metal label. Without any instrumentation or melodies of evident traditional derivation, and carrying several passages clearly inspired by Wintersun, Armageddon generally falls into extreme power. Even if the change saps Equilibrium of the ecstatic vigor that someone ordained should belong to eccentric folk metal bands, extreme power still suits the band just fine. "Erwachen" and "Heimat" are high-energy songs that are, if a bit serious, still a lot of fun. That brings us to the middle of the album and its centerpiece, "Born To Be Epic."
Though I had great fun with Erdentempel during the 2014 Metal Storm Awards and remembered Equilibrium fondly since then, it was "Born To Be Epic" that drew my attention to Armageddon and instilled in me the desire to write a review. While the relatively bare melodies and unhurried pace do sound like past Equilibrium played at half speed, the myth-building, sense-deriding lyrics basically put the song beyond reproach as a loving tribute to Manowar, or at least the similar folk metal spirit of earnest absurdity. More importantly, "Born To Be Epic" is one of the few examples I've ever heard of metal incorporating elements of dubstep, successfully or otherwise, and what struck me at first as ludicrous has since become exceptional. I found the whole idea of folk metal dubstep so singularly fascinating that I was rather disappointed to find that Equilibrium did not continue to explore the possibilities elsewhere. This may have been a wise strategy, given the discordant reactions voiced by fans about the experiment; the rest of Armageddon plays it much safer.
Getting back to the rest of the album, "Zum Horizont" and "Rise Again" bring back the woodwind whirlwind and triumphant charging of older albums, but everything from "Prey" onwards falls into a rut. Wanting for creativity, speed, and that energizing rowdydowdy that Equilibrium can so handily distribute, the last third of the album suffers from enervating and interminable mediocrity. It's difficult to believe that the first and second halves of Armageddon are indeed the same album, but so long as you don't actually finish listening to it, you'll probably be satisfied.
The first few songs on Armageddon seized me immediately, and up until the end of "Rise Again," I'd call it a pretty good album. Those last few tracks, however, with their mired pace and throwaway melodies, do nothing for me, and I still must say that Equilibrium would have been better off making another Erdentempel. At the very least, I think they should have taken their experimentation much further and created something wholly unorthodox if they weren't going to stick to the old ways; Armageddon currently sits in the middle of several different ideas, some of which hold the album back from being a complete success, and I suspect that pushing forward into new territory will ultimately be more beneficial than trying to recreate the past.
||Written on 09.12.2016 by Reviewing since 2010. Reviewing competently since 2013. More metal than you since before the dawn of 'istry.|
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